The number of British people living in private rented accommodation is rising all of the time. Most landlords take their responsibilities seriously. Everyone’s heard the horror stories of rogue landlords who never do repairs and have their tenants living in slum conditions. Several counties around the UK are taking steps to stamp out the rogue element in the landlord market. One way of doing this is by introducing landlord licencing. If you’re a landlord, or a tenant, it’s something you need to know about.
What is Landlord Licencing?
Landlord licencing is about checking up on the backgrounds of people who own any sort of residential property which they let out. The system is run by local councils. Each council has its own way of checking on landlords. Some don’t do any checks at all on the majority of landlords. The cost of registering also depends on where you are located. It’s a simple process. The landlord fills in the application form and sends it off to the Council with the fee. The council then runs background checks and if everything’s in order, adds the landlord to their register.
Fit and Proper Person Check
The main requirement of the system of registering landlords is the fit and proper person check. This is very similar to the process for applying for a DBS check or police records check. Councils are trying to weed out persistent criminals from being in positions of power over potentially vulnerable tenants. It’s also about stopping people who have been convicted for not complying with their landlord responsibilities from renting out property in the future. From a tenant’s point of view, it should give you some reassurance and peace of mind. Councils will also ask to see proof that the property has been tested for gas safety, or that it has working smoke alarms. Registration costs are fairly hefty. In most cases, landlords have to pay around £500 to the council to get their licence. Licences usually last three to five years before they need to be renewed.
How does this affect me as a tenant?
If you’re someone who lives in rented accommodation, then first check whether the licencing system is used in your area. If it’s not, all you can do to check up on your landlord is speak to other tenants. In an area with compulsory licencing, steer well clear of any landlord which doesn’t have one. Landlords who refuse to comply with the rules are breaking the law. Reputable lettings agents are a good place to start in the search for a new rental property.
Implications for Landlords
If you’re a landlord, it’s your job to keep up to date with any new licencing requirements. Don’t worry if you have a distant, minor criminal record. Many people do. Only people with an extensive record, or with convictions for very serious crimes will be refused a licence. There’s lots of advice on landlord websites, or speak to a lawyer for specific advice on your case.