Local councils are launching landlord licensing schemes at a rate of one every eight days – and they are not just for shared houses. Although house in multiple occupation (HMO) licences are the only mandatory schemes, plenty of councils are clamping down on rogue landlords with selective and additional licensing schemes. But do your rental properties need a landlord licence?
If you are a property investor, it can be hard to keep tabs on all the changes, but councils are quick to step in with formal warnings and prosecutions for landlords who do not keep up with the rules. However, finding out if your buy to let or shared home is covered by a licence is time well spent and not too tricky.
You must check the website of one of the 397 English councils or landlord licensing schemes run in Wales and Scotland, where the rules are different.
Landlords with rental properties in different council areas may find that although homes are similar, the local rules differ. For example, some cover all private rented homes in a council area, while others apply to specific neighbourhoods only.
What is the cost of a landlord licence?
The average cost of a landlord licence comes to around £500 for five years.
Fines for flouting the rules vary as well. Councils can charge up to £30,000 for each offence, although this amount is a deterrent for persistent rogue offenders.
In addition to a fine, offending landlords can be faced with a rent repayment order: Tenants in a property owned by a convicted landlord can apply for a rent repayment order that refunds any payments they have made for up to 12 months retrospectively.
So far, 70 English councils have introduced landlord licensing, according to consumer web site Which.
The site also keeps a landlord licensing map of schemes that are live or ready to start.
From 1 October 2018, new HMO licensing rules will apply in England that will net around 175,000 shared homes that are not currently subject of mandatory licensing.