Residential landlords with properties in Selective Licensing areas face tough penalties for non-compliance.
While the schemes are designed to weed out rogue landlords, you need to make sure you are complying with any local licensing conditions to avoid being caught up in a council crackdown.
Last year, a Lincolnshire landlord was handed down a record fine, believed to be the biggest ever handed out to a residential landlord in the UK.
Jagdish Singh was fined £108,000 (£13,500 per offence), after being found guilty of failing to licence eight of his properties. Singh also pleaded guilty to three offences relating to the failure to comply with improvement notices. He was fined a further £4,500 for each offence and ordered to pay cost of £2,000. Singh, along with three other landlords, were hit with fines totalling £232,155.68 for failing to licence their properties.
Selective Licensing is intended to address the impact of poor quality private landlords and anti-social tenants. It came into force in April 2006 and applies in England and Wales. Local authorities designate areas to be subject to selective licensing. In these areas, all private residential landlords must obtain a licence and, if they fail to do so, or fail to achieve acceptable management standards, the authority can take enforcement action.
Authorities can designate areas at any time, after consultation, so do keep an eye out for news in your local areas. Last Autumn, Bournemouth Council finally rejected plans to introduce a Selective Licensing scheme, much to the delight of local landlords and buy-to-let investors. If it had been approved, a single licence would have set landlords back £472 per property.
Meanwhile, landlords in parts of Walsall await the outcome of their area consultation. There, for instance, the proposal will require landlords to attend an approved training course within 12 months of the start of Selective Licensing, and to complete a number of questions relating to fit and proper status in the licence application form.
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