A leading letting agent has criticised the reasoning behind the UK's ever-growing list of selective licensing schemes.
Selective licensing covers all rented property in a given area or council borough and landlords are required to pay a five-yearly fee of between �500 and �900, depending on the area, along with reams of paperwork to complete.
Letting agents often offer to take on the task of applying for and being the named licence holder for a property, and North-East based agent Ben Quaintrell (pictured), who has experience of his local scheme run by Durham County Council, is not happy.
It has designated a huge area covering 29,000 homes or 42% of the county's private rented sector.
Quaintrell, the MD of Darlington-headquartered estate agent My Property Box says he is not against initiatives that help tackle poor standards of housing and management.
But he says: 'This scheme runs the risk of increasing rents, with some landlords who are themselves financially squeezed, passing on the licensing costs to already hard-pressed tenants.
'With the cost of living crisis, fuelled by soaring inflation and an energy price cap expected to near �3,000 this October, any additional financial pressure '� such as that created by selective licensing '� could have a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of those in privately rented accommodation.
'I would also question why Durham County Council has imposed the licensing scheme on such a large proportion of the area's privately rented housing stock.
'I contend that this is an unfair mandatory tax on responsible private landlords and that it is unlikely to induce unscrupulous landlords to improve their standards.
'In addition, it may drive landlords out of areas where there is already a shortage of rented properties.'�
Under the scheme it's an offence to let a property within a selective housing area without a licence and any landlord failing to comply faces prosecution and a hefty fine.
Licences have several conditions attached to make sure properties and tenancies are effectively managed. Some of those stipulations are legally required while others are in response to local conditions designed to tackle problems affecting a particular licensing area.
The aim is to improve the condition and management of rented homes, with a view to raising the health and wellbeing of tenants and curbing anti-social behaviour.
Read more: Do I need a licence for my property?