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Summary from Nottingham City Council's Selective Licensing Scheme

with Thanks to Giles from EMPO 04.11.19

On the 9th October 2019 Councillor Linda Wooding’s, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Planning and Heritage; David Hobbs, Selective Licensing Manager; and Dave Walker, Head of Safer Housing and Anti-Social Behaviour, presented a report on the progress of the Selective Licensing Scheme. The following points were discussed:
Summary from Nottingham City Council
The Scheme started on 1 August 2018 and will run until 31 July 2023.
The Scheme has been developed to address single-family residences, it is completely self-financing and is not intended to generate revenue beyond the meeting of its own costs. Care is being taken to ensure that the language used in the Scheme’s communications does not portray landlords unfairly, as the majority provide a vital service to City communities and work with the Council to ensure that citizens have access to good housing;
Approximately 10,000 applications for licences were made during the early period of the Scheme coming into force. As at 31st August 2019 17,523 applications have been submitted. So far, 472 full licences have been issued, along with 3903 draft licences  which are now being issued at a rate of around 1000 per month. The number of applications received for temporary, six-month exemptions from the Scheme has been higher than anticipated. Generally, these exemptions are granted to landlords who are in the process of selling a rented property. Initially, around 50% of applications were rejected due to errors or omissions on the form – rejections for this reason are now down to 3%. The number of Freedom of Information requests and complaints were also high but have decreased in volume as the Scheme has progressed. Five new staff are being recruited to speed up the processing of applications;
The Scheme is anticipated to process in the region of 24,000 applications. Processing applications will be a major focus for the project team over the first two years of the Scheme, with activity shifting towards enforcement and compliance work from the third year. Full reviews will take place during the second and fourth years, with mini reviews in the years between.
175 properties have been inspected as part of the licensing process, and improvements can be required as part of granting the licence. Ultimately, it is intended to inspect 50% of all properties licensed. The inspections will be carried out across the City on a risk-based approach, but they can be triggered based on a complaint from tenants or neighbours (which can be made through an anonymous call line). If a property is inspected on this basis, any other properties in the landlord’s portfolio may also be inspected;
Planning is being carried out to address the challenge of reaching landlords who have not engaged with the Scheme, or ‘accidental’ landlords who have not realised that they are required to, which will include education initiatives. The Scheme website and other communications channels are being improved, including social media presence. If the name of an agent is on the licence, rather than that of the landlord, the landlord will need a new licence if they change agent. However, the person named on the licence holds all the liabilities associated with that licence.
Although some landlords have said that it has been necessary for them to increase rents as a direct consequence of the Scheme, the fee charged for a licence is not high, relatively speaking, and landlords can claim the cost back as a business expense. A flexible approach has also been adopted with landlords who have many properties. As such, it does not seem necessary to pass the costs of the licence on to tenants. In addition, the ability by agents to charge letting fees to tenants has now been abolished by the Government;
The Committee felt that the Scheme’s outcomes to date were positive in improving the safety and wellbeing of City residents.
To read the full progess report please click HERE
Please do not hesitate to contact Giles at the EMPO office for any clarification on this content

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