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Ditching selective licencing will have 'dire consequences' says think tank

jon tabbush centre for london property portal selective licencing

London’s private rented sector will become a more dangerous place for tenants if rebel MPs convince the government to ditch selective licencing, an influencial independent think tank has warned.

Replacing it with the new private rented property portal will bring about dire consequences, says Jon Tabbush (main picture), a senior researcher at Centre for London.

“Enforcement in the best performing councils with licensing schemes will collapse, with their funding pulled, functionally calling open season for rogue landlords. Many councils will have little ability to enforce the rental regulations on their books.”

If large-scale schemes, covering the majority of a borough, are banned or restricted, the effect will be similar, explains Tabbush.


Because of high fixed set-up costs, licensing generally has to be on a large scale to become self-funding and councils facing financial catastrophe will not be able to devote funding to subsidise small schemes.

“The crucial point is that licensing and the property portal do not, and aren’t designed to, do the same thing,” he says.

The portal is just an exercise in data collection, simply requiring a landlord to upload their details. If successful, the portal will save officials uncountable hours searching for the landlord of a substandard property, but it won’t fund them to find those substandard properties in the first place.”

Crucially, licensing allows councils to inspect a property without warning a landlord, stopping rogue operators from harassing and evicting tenants before action can be taken, he adds.

Poor conditions

Tabbush points to many reviews of how licensing improves the private rented sector. “A recent report from Safer Renting found that in one of the boroughs it surveyed, 95% of properties for which a licence had been applied weren’t compliant, due to poor conditions.

This evidence base supports a convincing case for licensing to be strengthened, not weakened, with more flexibility and higher standards.”

Pic credit: Big South London/Jon Tabbush

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