*

Selective Licensing - Better standards for Nottingham’s private rented sector

People in Nottingham have a right to expect a decent and safe standard of private rented accommodation. The new selective licensing scheme aims to raise housing standards in the private rented sector to provide quality housing for all.

Nottingham City Council is introducing a new licensing scheme, which will mean landlords in most areas of the city will have to obtain a licence for each property they rent out to ensure it meets safety and quality standards.

Why the Scheme is needed

Evidence suggests that too many people in Nottingham are paying rent on private properties that are not safe or of a decent standard. A report by the Building Research Establishment (Sept 2016) estimated that 21% of Nottingham’s private rented properties are likely to have ‘Category 1’ hazards including exposed wiring, dangerous boilers, cold bedrooms, leaking roofs, mould or vermin infestation. The full report can be downloaded here.

People in Nottingham have a right to expect a good and safe standard of private rented accommodation, which is well managed and maintained. The new selective licensing scheme aims to raise housing standards in the private rented sector to provide quality housing for all.

Landlords who do not apply for a licence or do not meet the required standards may be putting tenants' safety and long term health and wellbeing at risk.

Key Benefits

  • Tenants will know what is expected of their landlord in terms of management of the property and standards. If landlords don’t comply with their legal obligations and apply for a licence, tenants can apply to claim their rent back from the Tribunal service.
  • Improvements will be made to poor property conditions and standards will be raised across Nottingham’s private rented sector.
  • Rogue landlords will be investigated and action taken.  This is good news for good landlords who are operating legitimately and complying with the law.

Scheme Details

When it will Start

The scheme will come into force on 1 August 2018, but we are aiming to accept applications from landlords from 1 July 2018. 

 

 

 

 

To help landlords and agents prepare for this, we have developed a number of resources and good practice guides

We have also prepared a handbook to help guide landlords and letting agents through the Selective Licensing process. You can download the latest version of the handbook here.

Changes to Requirements to the Scheme

After seeking Legal Advice the Council has made a number of amendments to the conditions of the scheme and what is required from Landlords to obtain a licence.  The FAQs have been updated to reflect this, and final conditions are now available

  • Proof of building insurance - If you do not have appropriate building insurance in place this will be added as a condition to the licence. There is still a requirement for public liability cover to be provided as part of this insurance however if the need to include cover for tenants to be put into temporary accommodation the property is uninhabitable has been removed
  • DBS checks - If the licence holder has a current standard or enhanced DBS certificate, it will be accepted as part of the application process provided there are no convictions listed on it
  • Evidence of formal licence holder training. If none has been undertaken then this will be a condition on the licence for the licence holder to  complete within 12 months and details of suitable training will be required
  • It is still a requirement to provide safe electrics in a property.  However it is no longer a mandatory requirement to have a satisfactory EICR or an Electrical Installation Certificate, although it is still recommended you have one done for each property
  • It is no longer a mandatory requirement to have a suitable fire detection and alarm system installed in the house and maintained in proper working order. There is still a requirement for smoke detection equipment as a minimum on each floor
  • There is no longer a requirement to fit a thumb turn mortice lock on the front door of the property or to produce an inventory and these conditions has been removed

We have had queries from landlords and agents about room sizes in the new Selective Licensing scheme, this is mentioned on page 14 of the Selective Licensing handbook.  We are currently reviewing this requirement as part of our review process along with the conditions.  Final guidance will be submitted here on our website week commencing 4 June 2018

Following legal advice, where there is genuine difficulty for landlords in being able to submit an application in time due to the number of properties the Council is proposing to allow landlords with more than 30 properties and agents with more than 120 properties to apply over 3 months.  This is only in agreement with the Council and is subject to the Council receiving a full list of the all properties and timescales of when the applications will be submitted. Anything other than this will be considered only in exceptional circumstances on a case by case basis. 

We have prepared a number of draft example licences to show the questions that are on the online application form. These can download below.

Properties that Require a Licence

The new Selective Licensing scheme does not cover all areas of the city. It’s estimated to cover over 30,000 privately rented homes in a designated area. The scheme will cover some /parts of some wards. The areas affected include: Arboretum, Bestwood, Bulwell, Bulwell Forest, Basford, Berridge, Bridge, Clifton North, Clifton South, Dales, Dunkirk and Lenton, Leen Valley, Mapperley, Radford and Park, Sherwood, St Ann’s, Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey.

To find out whether your rental property is within the Selective Licensing designation please use the My Property website

Some properties, such as those managed by Housing Associations and Nottingham City Homes properties are exempt from licencing. More details can be found in the FAQs 

Information on Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Additional Licensing can be found here

Applying for a Licence

It is the responsibility of the person who has control of the property (usually the person who receives the rent for the property) to apply to the council for a licence. This can be the owner or manager. The council aims to make an online portal for applications available from 1 July 2018 (provisional date only) but Landlords can start preparing the documentation, which will be required to support their applications now.

The FAQ  document and Good Landlord Guide provides details of the documentation required to complete the application process.

A licence will last up to 5 years and one licence will be required for each private rented property – not each landlord. Landlords and property managers (person receiving the rent) need to apply for a licence, not tenants.

It is an offence if a person having control of a house does not apply for a licence where one is required. This could be the owner, leaseholder, managing agent etc. If found guilty of this offence, the fine may be up to a maximum of £20,000. The council can now issue financial penalties of up to £30,000 for offences under the Housing Act 2004. This would be instead of a prosecution.

Failure to licence properties may also affect any decision regarding existing or future licences. Tenants can also apply to claim their rent back (rent repayment order) for the period the property was unlicensed, or housing benefit can be ordered to be repaid.

Licence Costs

Licences will cost landlords with Nottingham Standard accreditation £480, the equivalent of £1.85 a week per property over the five years of the scheme and £780, which equates to £3 a week if they haven’t got accreditation.

There is an additional cost for becoming accredited details of which can be found by following the link to More information on the Nottingham Standard below.

Fees and Discounts

Description

Fees

Comments

Standard Fee

1st payment £460

2nd payment £320

Total £780

For non-accredited landlords

Fee for accredited landlords properties

1st payment £360

2nd payment £120

Total £480

The proposed licence holder is accredited with the Nottingham Standard (Either Unipol or Dash)

A full breakdown of the costs associated with a Selective Licence can be found in the FAQs and Information handbook

A number of property owners or managers already deliver good quality and well managed homes and have gained Nottingham Standard accreditation via DASH or UNIPOL. We cannot exempt them from the scheme, but because this makes the task of licensing these properties easier, we are offering a discount for those accredited.

For more information on the Nottingham Standard please click here.

The Council believes that the fee should not lead to landlords increasing rent and that the vast majority of landlords will absorb the licence fee and the cost of any necessary improvements to properties as part of the day-to-day costs of running of their business. Income from the licence fees goes towards the cost of setting up, operating and delivering the schemes. The Council is not permitted to make a profit from the scheme.

Enforcing the Licence

Throughout the duration of the scheme, colleagues will be employed to inspect a percentage of the properties to ensure compliance with the licence conditions. Where licence holders are failing in their duties, the appropriate enforcement action will be taken. Part of the licence fee income goes towards setting up and carrying out the enforcement process. 

People who have concerns about how a landlord or agent is managing a rented property, can contact saferhousing@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

More Information

These pages will be updated as more information becomes available, so landlords and tenants should keep checking back for the latest information.

Updates can also be found on our social channels: @mynottingham, @nottmrenters

Email: selective.licensing@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

Resources and Good Practice Guides

Accreditation can currently be obtained by landlords via the DASH schemeUnipol also offers a scheme. Both schemes provide accreditation for up to three years.

The Building Research Establishment Private Sector Housing stock survey for the City of Nottingham is now available on Nottingham insight and can be accessed here

Get our latest updates delivered to your inbox.

* Sign up for Job Alerts, What's On, Latest News and more...