Rogue landlords are selling up and moving out of neighbourhoods with tough HMO licensing.
But the costs of house in multiple (HMO) licensing and council red-tape are a problem for many landlords and some buy to let lenders are refusing to give them mortgages in neighbourhoods where selective HMO licensing is in force.
The results come from a selective licensing survey of 12 council areas carried out by Environmental Health News, the official magazine of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
The study found councils are spending the cash generated by HMO licensing to take on more housing officers and to fund prosecutions against landlords who flout the rules.
Newham Council, East London, has the most extensive selective HMO licensing scheme covering 35,000 buy to let and HMO properties in the borough.
Since January, when the scheme started, Newham has started legal action against 99 landlords for breaching licensing laws and six form other housing offences, like ignoring fire safety.
Leeds, which started a selective HMO licensing scheme in 2009, has put 42 landlords before the courts for breaking licensing rules and six for other housing offences.
Four councils in the study have not prosecuted any landlords – Durham, Hartlepool, Hyndburn and Bristol.
However, nearly all the councils agreed selective HMO licensing had improved housing standards.
Both Leeds and Newcastle claimed some landlords had decided to sell and move to other areas as a result of the introduction of selective HMO licensing.
They also pointed out complaints about anti-social behaviour from tenants had dropped.
Housing officers in Newcastle felt many ‘more reliable’ landlords were upgrading their HMO properties.
Bob Mayho, CIEH principal policy officer, said: “The survey shows an increasing number of local authorities are considering going down the selective licensing route to tackle areas of deprivation, low demand and poor quality housing.”
“Many colleagues working to improve standards in the private rented sector tell us that the licensing approach is fraught with difficulties and carries with it high levels of bureaucratic burden.”