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'Rookie landlords now more at risk from selective licencing'

selective licencing

A leading law firm has warned that newbie landlords are at risk of ‘significant consequences’ because many are unaware that selective licencing is spreading rapidly across most urban areas of the UK.

Irwin Mitchell, which has a specialist property team, says two types of landlord are most at risk.

One of its senior lawyers, Jane Anderson (main image) says these are landlords buying and then renting out their first properties, and those purchasing properties with sitting tenants.

Landlords are particularly exposed to selective licencing because, as Anderson points out, they can cover specific areas within cities or towns, or cover the whole borough depending on the policy of the local council.

For example, Leicester recently introduced selective licencing in three areas of the city while Oxford now requires all its private rented sector landlords to register their properties for licencing at a cost of £1,100 each.

Some cities are also planning massive expansions of existing schemes. Brighton last year revealed plans to extend its scheme covering 2,100 to a further 9.500 properties this year.

As LandlordZONE has reported on many occasions, Anderson points out that ‘ignorance of the law’ is no defence.

“Whilst local authorities have consultation obligations when they set out to designate an area for selective licensing, they are not obliged to write to each and every landlord in the area,” she says.

Legal obligations

“Landlords are expected to have systems in place to ensure they keep up-to-date with their legal obligations.

“Selective licences are not transferrable and therefore new landlords should establish whether their properties fall within an area designated for selective licensing before they let out their properties to tenants.

“Similarly, if landlords take on properties with tenants in situ, they should ensure they have thoroughly checked the legal position and their obligations.

“Landlords may find themselves committing an offence if they fail to do so.”

One example of this in Manchester, where the council earlier this year revealed it had levied fines totalling £86,000 against landlords who had failed to licence properties.


Selective licensing