A Government-commissioned review into selective licensing has backed the creation of a national landlord register.
Currently, certain designated areas require landlords to obtain a property license and failing to do so can result in a fine of up to £30,000 or prosecution in which the court could impose an unlimited fine. Tenant can also apply for repayment of rent during the unlicensed period by applying to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).
Selective licensing is intended to address the issue of poor property condition, low housing demand, high levels of crime, high levels of deprivation, anti-social behaviour and high levels of migration. Selective licensing does this by improving the management practices of landlords. This will, in turn, make renting privately a more viable option in the longer term by renters.
The review described selective licensing as an “effective policy tool” but has recommended a range of reforms to the selective licensing scheme.
The Opinion Research Services review suggests a national landlord register would help complement selective licensing schemes and provide easy access to data on who should have a licence.
“A national registration scheme would go a long way toward solving these data related problems.
“Such as scheme would allow for far more accurate enumeration of the private rented sector at the planning stage and would facilitate the ongoing identification of unlicensed properties in an active designation. These factors would increase the effectiveness of any selective licensing scheme significantly.
“As such, national registration would at the very least complement and support selective licensing.”
The review authors said they were not tasked with recommending how such as scheme would work but added that there is “significant appetite for such an initiative”.
It is unclear whether this would apply to lettings agents, but it is believed they may fall out of the scope as they would be eventually be covered by new regulations in the sector.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said:
“Select licensing has made a real difference to areas across the country. This report further demonstrates that with proper planning, consultation and implementation, these schemes can make a real difference to the quality of homes people live in.
“The report does highlight some important matters which require further consideration, and we will work with the sector to continue to understand their concerns before responding fully.”
However, previously, the Government have opposed the creation of a national landlord register.
In 2018 the Minister for the PRS, Heather Wheeler MP said:
“The Government does not support a mandatory register of private landlords.
“The majority of landlords provide decent and well managed accommodation and requiring those landlords to sign up to a national register would introduce an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy…”
National landlords association such as the Residential Landlords Association and the British Landlords Association oppose that the creation of a national landlord register as it would bring unecessary red tape for the large majority of landlords who provide good quality accommodation.