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Selective Licensing: what landlords need to do before August 1 2018

Mark Batty

There’s just a few months left before Nottingham’s new Selective Licensing scheme comes in to force in the city. If you are a landlord with properties within the city boundaries, now is the time to make sure you’re prepared for the changes or risk the penalty of a hefty fine. Guest blogger Mark Batty, Director at Walton & Allen estate agents, discusses the new scheme.

Selective Licensing – a major new piece of legislation which sets specific standards for private rented sector landlords to meet – is now the law in Nottingham.

It’s fair to say the new rules have received a mixed reception in the city, with many landlords concerned about the additional costs while others see the immediate benefit of the scheme in cracking down on rogue landlords.

At Walton & Allen, we support the notion behind the legislation and believe the best way for our landlords to approach the new scheme is to make sure they are making their applications in good time. In the first instance, it’s useful to know that accredited landlords receive a discounted rate (Nottingham City Council recognises two accreditation bodies, DASH Services and UNIPOL).

We’re supporting our landlords through the application process with literature and advice on how to complete their applications, which are weighty forms, and we are also acting as Licence Holders for our landlords who are based overseas, as the legal documents of the licence cannot be served abroad.

To many, the new scheme may seem like a minefield and we are aware that the additional cost of the licence – which is £780 per property for non-accredited landlords, while accredited landlords enjoy a discount of £480 – needs to be absorbed into budgets at fairly short notice. However, the reality is that this scheme is now law and the risk of not complying far outweighs the cost of the fee. Landlords found to be without a licence after August 1 2018 could be fined up to £20,000 and the council can now issue financial penalties of up to £30,000 for offences under the Housing Act 2004.

Some landlords decided that this new cost is just too much for them to manage and sold their properties in advance of the scheme coming in to force, when they first heard about the news. Unfortunately, for those who weren’t as quick to act, it is now probably too late to avoid the fee by selling. Landlords in a position where a sale is agreed but not yet completed may be able to apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice (TEN) if the building is to be occupied or used in such a manner that it will no longer fall within the definition of a licensable house. It is important to note that this exemption is at the council’s discretion on a case by case basis.

Selective Licensing is certainly the current ‘hot potato’ in the rental sector in Nottingham – but it can’t be dropped. We expressed our concerns about the scope of the programme at consultation stage and would have preferred to see it applied to a more targeted section of rented properties, focusing more on those areas of the city affected by anti-social behaviour. The council took note and reduced the initial boundary of the scheme, which we were pleased about.

Our stance now is to ensure our landlords are as prepared for the scheme as possible and forearmed with the information they need in order to be compliant.

If you’re a landlord, based either in the UK and overseas, and you would like support with the application or advice about how to comply with the conditions over the 5 year period, you can get in touch with one of our agents on 0115 924 3304, emailing nsl@waltonandallen.co.uk or visiting our website for more information www.waltonandallen.co.uk/selective-licensing

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