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Selective Licensing - Better standards for Nottingham’s private rented sector

People in Nottingham have a right to expect a decent and safe standard of private rented accommodation. The new selective licensing scheme aims to raise housing standards in the private rented sector to provide quality housing for all.

Improving the quality of housing in the city is one of the Council’s main priorities. We believe that whether you rent from a social landlord or a private landlord you should be able to expect a good standard home, which is well managed and maintained. The Council has collected evidence, which shows that this simply is not the case for many people living in the private rented sector.

A report by the Building Research Establishment (BRE)  (Sept 2016) estimated that 21% of Nottingham’s private rented properties are likely to have ‘Category 1 hazards’; examples of this type of hazard could include exposed wiring, a dangerous boiler, cold bedrooms, a leaking roof, mould on walls or ceilings and vermin infestation. Selective licensing will help ensure these issues are addressed.

The proposal to introduce a new licensing scheme for landlords in Nottingham has now been formally confirmed by the Minster for Housing and Homelessness.

Details of the proposed scheme can be found here (Executive Board Report July 2017)

The submission made to the Secretary State requested approval for a ‘Selective Licensing’ scheme, which would require private landlords to obtain a licence demonstrating that they and their properties meet required standards.

 

Please bear with us – some details of the scheme are still under review following the Secretary of State’s approval. Confirmed details about the scheme will be made available at the Council’s Executive Board meeting in April.

About the scheme

Selective Licensing will come into force on 1st August 2018. To help landlords and agents prepare for this we have developed a number of resources and good practice guides

We have been listening to feedback on proposals and made some amendments to the scheme.  Details of this can be found in the updated FAQs.  We are always willing to listen to feedback and were amendments are made to accommodate these the FAQs will be updated to reflect any changes to the scheme.

Key benefits of the scheme

  • Tenants will know what is expected of their landlord in terms of management of the property and standards. If landlords don’t comply with their legal obligations and apply for a licence, tenants can apply to claim their rent back from the Tribunal service.
  • Improvements will be made to poor property conditions and standards will be raised across Nottingham’s private rented sector.
  • Rogue landlords will be investigated and action taken.  This is good news for good landlords who are operating legitimately and complying with the law.

Which properties require a licence?

The new Selective Licensing scheme does not cover all areas of the city. It is estimated to cover over 30,000 privately rented homes in a designated area. The scheme will cover some /parts of some wards. The areas affected include: Arboretum, Bestwood, Bulwell, Bulwell Forest, Basford, Berridge, Bridge, Clifton North, Clifton South, Dales, Dunkirk and Lenton, Leen Valley, Mapperley, Radford and Park, Sherwood, St Ann’s, Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey.

To find out whether your rental property is within the Selective Licensing designation please use the My Property website

Some properties, such as those managed by Housing Associations and Nottingham City Homes properties are exempt from licencing. More details can be found in the FAQs 

Information on Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Additional Licensing can be found here

Applying for a licence

The Council aims to make an online portal for applications available from 1 July 2018 (provisional date only) but Landlords can start preparing the documentation, which will be required to support their applications now. The FAQ  document  and Good Landlord Guide provides details of the documentation required to complete the application process.

A licence will last up to 5 years and one licence will be required for each private rented property – not each landlord. Landlord’s and property managers (person receiving the rent) need to apply for a licence, not tenants.

It is an offence if a person having control of a house does not apply for a licence where one is required. This could be the owner, leaseholder, managing agent etc. If found guilty of this offence, the fine may be up to a maximum of £20,000. The Council can now issue financial penalties of up to £30,000 for offences under the Housing Act 2004. This would be instead of a prosecution.

Failure to licence properties may also affect any decision regarding existing or future licences. Tenants can also apply to claim their rent back (rent repayment order) for the period the property was unlicensed, or housing benefit can be ordered to be repaid.

Licence costs

The proposed cost of the license is £1.85 per week per property for accredited landlords and £3 per week for non-accredited landlords. These were approved at the Executive Board Meeting of the 17 April 2018.

A number of property owners or managers already deliver good quality and well managed homes and have gained Nottingham Standard accreditation via DASH or UNIPOL. We cannot exempt them from the scheme, but because this makes the task of licensing these properties easier, we are offering a discount for those accredited.

For more information about the Nottingham Standard, visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/nottinghamstandard

The Council is not permitted to make a profit from the scheme and the scheme has to be cost neutral. Income from the licence fee goes towards the setup, running and enforcement of the scheme and this is how the licence fee will be determined.

We believe that landlords should be able to absorb the licence fees as part of the cost of running their business and be able to demonstrate that they offer a good standard of accommodation without the need to increase rents. If landlords need to incur further costs to make improvements to their properties to bring them up to standard, then this underlines why there is a need for the scheme in the first place.

Enforcing the licence 

Throughout the duration of the scheme, colleagues will be employed to inspect a percentage of the properties to ensure compliance with the licence conditions. Where licence holders are failing in their duties, the appropriate enforcement action will be taken. Part of the licence fee income goes towards setting up and carrying out the enforcement process. 

More information

These pages will be updated as more information becomes available, so landlords and tenants should keep checking back for the latest information.

Updates can also be found on our social channels: @mynottingham, @nottmrenters

Email: selective.licensing@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

Resources and good practice guides

Accreditation can currently be obtained by landlords via the DASH schemeUnipol also offers a scheme. Both schemes provide accreditation for up to three years.

The Building Research Establishment Private Sector Housing stock survey for the City of Nottingham is now available on Nottingham insight and can be accessed here

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