Selective licensing for landlords is a massive rip-off

Selective licensing for landlords is a massive rip-off

14:39 PM, 20th October 2022, About 2 years ago 12

Text Size

Let’s call selective licensing for landlords what it is: an unfair mandatory tax that is a massive rip-off.

Sure, council officers and councillors will tell everyone how they are going to crack down on rogue landlords, but they don’t actually do that.

Selective licensing does, however, appear to be a legalised job creation scheme for council staff. And why do I say that?

Because the councils do.

They aren’t embarrassed to say that the selective licensing fee is to help pay for officers to run the scheme. There may be a hint about investigating properties – but in reality, we know it won’t happen.

Hard work finding the criminal landlords

And that’s because it’s too much like hard work finding the criminal landlords who will never sign up.

Instead, it’s the good and decent landlords offering quality homes that get hammered every time.

We have to spend more money – which will put the rent up – to comply with nonsense legislation.

And let’s make this absolutely clear as to why I believe that selective licensing for landlords is a massive rip-off:

Councils ALREADY have the powers to clamp down on rogue landlords.

What difference will filling in a form do? Nothing, that’s what.

Criminal landlords being brought to book

And no council – you can prove me wrong in the comments below – has ever revealed how successful their selective licensing scheme has been. No data on criminal landlords being brought to book, or what work was needed to improve properties. Nothing.

I’ve talked before about unintended consequences and licensing schemes will probably be the final nail for a lot of fed-up landlords. Why do we bother?

The criminal landlords will still be criminals offering unsuitable and unsafe properties, while decent landlords get shafted with a bill for a five-year license.

That means that rather than improving rented homes, the council reduces the numbers that are available. Let’s spell that out for any councillors reading this:

  • Squeezed landlords are being squeezed more – without a profit, we can’t offer a home to rent
  • Squeezed tenants then face a rent rise – or being made homeless
  • Criminal landlords remain unaffected
  • Fed-up landlords leave the sector and sell up.

But don’t worry councillors, think of all those juicy, well-paid jobs you have created. Congratulations!

Proposals for selective licensing

I don’t disagree that the wording on the proposals for selective licensing and I appreciate that it plays well to your constituents because all landlords are awful, aren’t they? Taking all that lovely rent money and not investing in their property.

But that’s not true. And you know it – or should do if you bothered to speak with any of us.

So, let’s take a look at the paperwork.

I was intrigued by a story on Property118 about the additional licensing scheme in Walsall. Same old, same old, I thought when I read the story and decided to go to the website.

It made clear that accredited landlords would have to pay £850 – or get the ‘early bird’ appetiser of £745. But non-accredited landlords will have to fork out £1,065 – or £910 for the discount.

Where do they get these figures from?

Tighter regulation and higher fees

The report to the council also highlights that most of the people who responded to the public consultation wanted tighter regulation and higher fees. Many didn’t want HMOs at all. I even watched the video from the council meeting (Yes, I should get out more) and all the opinions of landlords were uniformly bad.

Then there was Haringey council which brought in a selective licensing scheme and a move to improve the property’s EPC rating (though they don’t specify what the rating should be – natch). No details about how this will be done, other than with ‘support and education’.

Their license will cost £600, or £350 per property if landlords get in early.

The comments on that particular story also highlight that Haringey is tying its license to the conduct of the tenants – and holding the landlord responsible. Eh? How do we control them?

Section 21 notice to deal with anti-social behaviour

Just wait until a landlord hands out a Section 21 notice to deal with anti-social behaviour and have the same council jump up and down. The same department will probably tell the anti-social tenants to sit tight and wait for the bailiffs – costing landlords even more money.

This brings me nicely to Manchester’s latest ruse. Again, reported on Property118, I went to the website and found it would cost up to £85,000 to set this extended scheme up. Of course, this amount ‘will be fully funded’ by the license fee.

They should have said it would be paid for by compliant and honest landlords, leaving criminal landlords with nothing to fear.

Councillors were told in a report that the scheme will focus enforcement efforts on the worst properties and landlords. Councils can also fine a landlord £30,000 for non-compliance.

Though Manchester makes clear that since 2017 when a pilot scheme was launched, they have collected just £10,055.60 in fines. That’s from just 14 civil penalties.

They also point out that 1,741 properties in Manchester are licensed, 281 have been inspected and 214 have had remedial works carried out. Don’t ask what the work was – there are no details.

If selective licensing for landlords isn’t a massive rip-off

So, if selective licensing for landlords isn’t a massive rip-off and local authorities want to improve standards – why don’t they license landlords instead? Why do they demand money per property? Why don’t they use the powers they already have?

Not only will a council be able to track and deal with errant landlords more easily, but their licensing scheme will be more manageable as a result.

And let’s not kid ourselves that finding and dealing with criminal landlords is the aim of selective licensing – councils aren’t interested in the hard work that it takes to deal with them. And they don’t want to deal with homeless tenants who will have nowhere to live if they do decide to act.

Which brings us back to fed-up landlords selling their rental properties because selective licensing is nothing but a big fat expensive rip-off for decent landlords.

Until next time,

The Landlord Crusader


Read last week’s article ‘Bad tenants, worse politicians, S21 – is it over for landlords?’ – I really am that despondent!

 ‘Housing crisis? What housing crisis?’ – But don’t think that I am a Conservative voter/supporter

And the previous missive that provoked a lot of interesting debate about holding a Section 21 Day. Landlords – hold that thought!

Share This Article


David Smith

8:45 AM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

Ealing council have decided on renewal of 5 year Selective License scheme just to issue a new license for a further 5 years to all landlords without the need to re-apply resulting in no checks due to staffing levels.

However new landlords still need to apply but once those licences have been issued then who is going to carry out ongoing compliance checks?

What’s the point?


8:45 AM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

The NRLA far from fighting this rip off are complicit. In Durham you get a discount on the license if you join the NRLA and pass the online tests - the tests cost money. My agent advised me against doing it because the tests were so hard that he struggled with decades of experience. The NRLA is making money off these schemes where they should be fighting to stop them.

Paul B

8:50 AM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

"The first duty of any Bureaucracy is to protect itself and then expand".

Ronald Reagan said this in his memoirs, and it rings true.

Darren Peters

9:25 AM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

The biggest and most kafkaesque insult is that the very organisation that’s been shown time and again to be unable to provide decent, safe housing, the councils, get to be the licensors.

The establishment wants the decks cleared of small mom & pop housing providers so that they have a cartel on build to rent without being undercut & generally shown up by indies.


11:59 AM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

In the end the tenant pays - poor things

Reluctant Landlord

12:13 PM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JB at 21/10/2022 - 11:59
in the end yes - but the LL has to pay up front. Thats the issue

Allan Simpson

13:55 PM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

I have become a victim of this through a Doncaster Council scheme. Previously they had an agency run it on their behalf. It was cancelled for a couple of years and they have now brought it back and are running it themselves.
I sent all my forms in during Feb 22. I contacted them in Sept 22 asking what had happened to my Application. They said I had not sent them the necessary info. I proved I had done so by recorded delivery. The License was issued the following week. They like to collect the money, but are hopeless in administering anything. It is a stealth cash cow. All Landlords make lots of money, so they think, so they want a cut. This is the same council who I was persuaded by to house a benefit claimant because they had no properties. Two years later she cost me £12,000 in unpaid rents and damage to the property having been told by the council to stay put when receiving her conviction notice. On my third court appearance when I was castigated by the judge for asking her to leave some 4 months after previous notices, the council found her a property within 30 minutes of the court hearing. I would suggest investors thinking about buying in Doncaster should do so very carefully.


14:20 PM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul B at 21/10/2022 - 08:50
Nice one. Well said!

Chris Williams

23:04 PM, 21st October 2022, About 2 years ago

Dagenham in Essex was £900.for 5 years now it is £1300 I believe, with 16000 private rented property’s it’s a great income

Jessie Jones

10:56 AM, 22nd October 2022, About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Lee at 21/10/2022 - 08:45
Similar in Nottingham. Discount offered if you become 'accredited'. But it now costs money to join the accreditation scheme, and to become accredited you have to take a course, which again, costs money.
Needless to say, I don't bother with accreditation I simply pass on the higher fee to my tenants by way of increased rent. Not my choice, but forced by silly councils.

1 2

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now