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Selective Licensing: Everything UK Landlords Need to Know

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In an attempt to improve housing conditions across the private rental sector, several councils are set to expand their selective licensing schemes.

Brent, Lambeth and Lewisham Council have all announced their expansion, but it's likely to continue across all boroughs.

In this blog, we unpack what a selective license is, why they're in place and how it may affect you as a UK landlord.

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What is a selective license? 

The Selective License Scheme is a regulatory initiative implemented by local councils to ensure that certain properties meet specific standards, particularly in areas facing particular challenges. This scheme is not applicable nationwide but is rather enacted by individual local authorities where deemed necessary.

When is a selective license needed?

Selective Licensing applies to specific areas determined by local authorities. If your property is within such a designated zone, you'll need a Selective License. It's not about the property type but rather the geographical location.

What affects the council's decision when granting a license? 

When councils deliberate on granting a Selective License in a specific area, they assess several factors. These may include the property's condition, the landlord's track record, and, crucially, whether the license would improve the overall living conditions and community welfare. The council aims to ensure that the introduction of Selective Licensing serves the best interests of the community it covers.

What's the process when applying for a selective license? 

The licensing process can be laborious; the council require a lot of information (which, of course, must be accurate), may want to visit the site, and, in some instances, require works to be carried out.

It's worth checking in with your agent to see if the application service is something they offer to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. 

Check Eligibility: Ensure that the property falls within an area designated by the local council for selective licensing. This information is usually available on the council's website or by contacting the local housing department.

Property Inspection and Compliance: Conduct a thorough inspection of the property to ensure it meets the required standards set by the council. This can include safety measures, sanitation, and overall habitability.

Application Form: Complete the selective licensing application form provided by the local council. This form will require information about the property and the landlord and may involve details about any managing agents.

Documentation: Prepare and submit the necessary supporting documents. This may include proof of ownership, gas safety certificates, electrical safety certificates, and other relevant paperwork.

Fit and Proper Person Check: Landlords will typically undergo a "fit and proper person" check. This involves an assessment of the landlord's history to ensure they are suitable for managing rental properties. This can include any criminal convictions or breaches of landlord laws.

Fee Payment: Pay the required application fee. The fee amount varies between councils, and it's essential to check the specific costs associated with the selective licensing scheme in the relevant area.

Awaiting Approval: After submission, the council will review the application. This process may take several weeks, and the council might conduct additional checks or inspections if necessary.

License Issuance: If the property and the landlord meet the required standards and all documentation is in order, the council will issue the selective license. The license will specify the conditions that must be adhered to.

Compliance with Conditions: Once the license is granted, landlords must comply with the specified conditions throughout the license period. This can include regular property inspections by the council.


What happens if you don't apply for a selective license? 

The repercussions for landlords neglecting to apply for a Selective License can involve legal actions, fines, and even the prohibition of renting out the property. 

What happens if you breach the terms and conditions of a selective license? 

Repercussions may include fines, suspension or revocation of the license, and potential legal action. It's not only about obtaining the license but also following its conditions to ensure a safe living environment.

How does Selective Licensing contribute to community well-being and housing standards?

Selective Licensing plays a pivotal role in elevating community well-being and housing standards. By ensuring that landlords adhere to specific conditions, the scheme aims to enhance living conditions, mitigate anti-social behaviour, and foster a sense of community.

Did we cover it all? If not, click here to ask us any further questions.  

Whilst you're here, why not read "Valuable Market Insight: The Renter Survey 2023 Results" or "Why Energy Efficient Homes Matter Now More Than Ever." 

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