How landlords in Labour councils can brace themselves for fresh licensing fees

In recent months, a trend has emerged in the private rental sector; Labour-led councils are increasingly implementing new licensing schemes. Between June and July 2023, six Labour councils in Birmingham City, Islington, Medway, Merton, Southwark, and Wirral have introduced or are considering introducing selective licensing.

Landlords will be familiar with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing, but in England and Wales, every council has the power to establish additional licensing in their area under the Housing Act 2004. Here, the tenancy and landlord experts at AST Landlord Assistance explore the intricacies of these licensing schemes, their ramifications for landlords, and the broader implications for the UK's private rental sector.

Background of the licensing schemes

The concept of licensing schemes for private landlords is not new, but their recent surge in Labour-run councils reflects a changing political and social landscape. The expansion to include thousands more properties signals a shift in housing policy, aligning with broader goals of improving living standards and tenant rights.

Selective licensing schemes apply mainly to smaller private rental properties outside the scope of HMO schemes. The fees, ranging from £650 to £800, vary across councils, with specific examples including Birmingham City's £700 charge and Islington's £800 fee. These licences typically last for five years, but councils have the discretion to issue them for shorter periods, reflecting the local housing needs and challenges.

Purpose and aim of the schemes

The primary objective of these schemes is to ensure landlords maintain properties to a liveable standard. However, political motivations cannot be ignored. The drive to enhance housing quality resonates with renters, potentially garnering support in upcoming elections. This alignment with tenant interests reflects a broader societal shift towards housing equality and tenant protection.

Additionally, the financial implications for landlords are profound. The fees, coupled with other financial pressures such as stamp duty surcharges and energy-efficiency targets, create a challenging environment for property owners. The argument that fees detract from home improvement funds adds complexity to the debate, raising questions about who actually benefits from these schemes.

The legal ramifications are equally significant; non-compliance can lead to criminal convictions and substantial penalties, creating a high-stakes environment for landlords. The severity of these consequences underscores the government's commitment to enforcing housing standards but also raises concerns about proportionality and fairness.

Landlords must invest time and effort in understanding the specific licensing schemes in their areas - and consider the political landscape of any area of their property portfolio. This includes not only analysing the specific local fees and requirements but also the underlying objectives and enforcement mechanisms driven by that council. A nuanced understanding will enable landlords to navigate the regulatory landscape more effectively.

Strategic planning and compliance are more important than ever. Landlords must assess their properties, identify potential shortcomings, and implement necessary improvements. This proactive approach can mitigate legal risks and align landlords with broader societal goals of housing quality and tenant welfare.

Engaging with local councils offers landlords clarity on implementation and enforcement. Building relationships with local authorities can foster collaboration and understanding, ensuring that regulations are met without difficulty.

Linking licensing schemes to breaches of tenancy agreements

Any new licensing schemes are not merely a separate regulatory requirement for landlords. They are intrinsically linked to the obligations and responsibilities outlined in tenancy agreements.

Failure to comply with the standards set by licensing schemes can lead to legal consequences for landlords, including substantial penalties. In turn, it could constitute a breach of the tenancy agreement; failure to maintain the property to the required standard may contravene the terms of the tenancy agreement. This could lead to legal action by the tenant, further compounding the legal and financial risks for the landlord.

The increased scrutiny and enforcement associated with the licensing schemes may lead to greater awareness and reporting of breaches of tenancy agreements. Tenants may be more likely to recognise and report violations, knowing that local authorities are actively monitoring and enforcing housing standards.

How landlords must brace for licensing expansion

New licensing schemes in Labour-led councils represent a complex and multifaceted development in the private rental sector. The interplay between financial, legal, and political considerations creates a nuanced and challenging landscape for landlords. As the situation continues to evolve, landlords must remain proactive, balancing their responsibilities with the changing regulatory environment, and aligning with broader societal goals of housing quality and tenant protection.

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Published August 2023

Michael

PropertyData team

support@propertydata.co.uk
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Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated in near real-time.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from the portal, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

What are the statistics used?

Averages shown are the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How do you know the square footage of properties?

We use proprietary technology to read the square footage of properties from agent floorplans. Although we cannot determine the square footage for all properties, we can usually get sufficient coverage. Agents are sometimes known to inflate square footage, and this should be borne in mind as a weakness of this data.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated in near real-time.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from the portal, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property "price paid" data provided by the Land Registry.

How often is the data updated?

Once per month when released by the Land Registry, typically towards the end of each calendar month covering up to the end of the previous calendar month.

What time period does the data cover?

You can customise the time period using the filter at the top of the view. The default time period is up to 9 months back from today's date. The latest data covers the period up to 2024-03-01, although some sales that took place before this date may still be added in the coming months.

How is the raw data processed?

No additional processes are applied to this data.

What are the statistics used?

Averages shown are the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property "price paid" data provided by the Land Registry, and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) data provided by Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities.

How do you know the square footage of properties?

We match the Land Registry data to EPC data provided by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. Due to the fact that not all properties sold have had an EPC and vagaries of addressing in the UK, we are not able to determine the square footage of all properties, but we can usually get sufficient coverage.

How often is the data updated?

The private paid data is updated once per month when released by the Land Registry, typically towards the end of each calendar month covering up to the end of the previous calendar month. The energy performance certificate database is updated monthly.

What time period does the data cover?

You can customise the time period using the filter at the top of the view. The default time period is up to 9 months back from today's date. The latest data covers the period up to 2024-03-01, although some sales that took place before this date may still be added in the coming months.

How is the raw data processed?

No additional processes are applied to this data.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated in near real-time.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from the portal, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Room let listings on SpareRoom, the UK's biggest room letting website.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated in near real-time.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from SpareRoom, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated in near real-time.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from the portal, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded. Yields are calculated by comparing only properties with the same number of bedrooms, e.g. 3-bedroom properties for rent with 3-bedroom properties for sale.

What is the yield calculation used?

The calculation used is (average_weekly_asking_rent * 52 / average_asking_price), expressed as a percentage. It is a top-line gross yield, meaning no expenses are considered.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated in near real-time.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from Zoopla, Rightmove or Spareroom, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Yields are calculated by comparing only properties with the same number of bedrooms, e.g. 3-bedroom properties for rent with 3-bedroom properties for sale. For the SpareRoom data, hypothetical properties consisting of two to six average double rooms with shared bathrooms are used to derived average rent. For all sources, listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

What is the yield calculation used?

The calculation used is (average_weekly_asking_rent * 52 / average_asking_price), expressed as a percentage. It is a top-line gross yield, meaning no expenses are considered.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property "price paid" data provided by the Land Registry.

How often is the data updated?

Once per month when released by the Land Registry, typically towards the end of each calendar month covering up to the end of the previous calendar month.

Zoopla Zed-index

What time period does the data cover?

The data covers transactions in the last six years

How is the raw data processed?

No additional processes are applied to this data.

What are the statistics used?

The average shown is the interquartile mean, a type of average that is insensitive to outliers while being its own distinct parameter. The 80% range means that 80% of the listed properties fall inside this range.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How often is the data updated?

The listings data is updated in near real-time. The Land Registry data is updated once per month when released, typically towards the end of each calendar month covering up to the end of the previous calendar month.

What time period does the data cover?

The price paid data shown goes back to January 2015. The listings data is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from the portal, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

What are the calculations used?

Average sales per month are for the last 3 finalised months. Turnover is average sales per month divided by total for sale. Inventory is 100 divided by turnover.

Where does the raw data come from?

Property listings seen on rightmove.co.uk, zoopla.co.uk and onthemarket.com.

How often is the data updated?

The listings data is updated in near real-time. The Land Registry data is updated once per month when released, typically towards the end of each calendar month covering up to the end of the previous calendar month.

What time period does the data cover?

This is a real-time market snapshot - the data covers currently listed properties. Once properties are removed from the portal, they are soon removed from this tab.

How is the raw data processed?

Duplicates from multiple sources are matched and reconciled as far as possible. Listings with obvious errors, where price or number or bedrooms appear out of range, are discarded.

Where does the raw data come from?

We receive data on the extent and corporate ownership of all land titles in England & Wales from the Land Registry.

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated once per month when released, typically in the first few days of each calendar month.

What time period does the data cover?

This is an ownership snapshot - the data represents ownership as recorded by the Land Registry at the last monthly export.

How is the raw data processed?

No additional processes are applied to this data.

Where does the raw data come from?

We source different expert forecasts Savills, Knight Frank, OBR

How often is the data updated?

The data is updated annually when new forecasts are released, typically towards the beginning of the year.

How is the raw data processed?

We calculate a consensus forecast using a simple mean average.