Selective Licensing Schemes FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions on the Selective Licensing Consultation


Under section 80 of the Housing Act 2004 a local housing authority can designate the whole or any part or parts of its area as subject to Selective Licensing. 

Where a Selective Licensing designation is made it applies to privately rented property in the area. Subject to certain exemptions specified in the Selective Licensing of Houses (Specified Exemptions) (England) Order 2006, all properties in the PRS which are let or occupied under a licence, are required to be licensed by the local housing authority, unless the property is a House in Multiple Occupation and is required to be licensed under Part 2 of the Act. 

All privately rented properties within the proposed area of Bootle would be subject to Selective Licensing.

The following properties/circumstances do not require a licence:

  • Owners who reside in property they own as their main residence (owner-occupiers)
  • Homes let to tenants of registered housing providers (housing associations)
  • Those places specifically excluded from the legislation such as care homes, etc
  • Student accommodation directly managed by educational institutions, e.g. halls of residence [but not those where students have tenancies with private landlords]
  • HMOs that require licensing through Sefton’s Mandatory HMO licensing scheme
  • Homes subject to management orders and exemption notices
  • Households that act as host families for foreign students studying for a short period
  • Homes with lodgers.

The law exempts social housing property from licensing.  Social housing is regulated separately by the Regulator of Social Housing.

The benefits of the licensing of privately rented homes include:

  • Creating a clear set of rules that all landlords must follow
  • Ensuring private landlords are managing and maintaining their properties to a reasonable standard
  • Encouraging those landlords who are inexperienced or live outside of the area to use reputable managing agents
  • Responsible landlords will receive information and support to help tackle antisocial behaviour
  • Poor performing landlords will receive support and training to help them improve
  • Improving the image of the designated areas with licensing as places where people want to live
  • Helping landlords to protect their investment in their property leading to an increase of property value
  • Improvement in the reputation of private landlords
  • Greater ability for the landlord and authority to deal with rogue tenants
  • Reduced crime, ASB and other environmental problems, such as graffiti, litter and fly-tipping
  • Shorter void periods
  • Reduced number of empty properties 
  • Reduced risk of homelessness and increased length of stay
  • Landlords who have voluntarily engaged with a recognised accreditation scheme can also benefit from a reduced licensing fee
  • Preventing ‘rogue landlords’ from letting substandard accommodation at lower rents
  • Reassuring tenants that landlords with licensed accommodation are providing housing of a decent quality that is managed to a reasonable standard.

Sefton Council has proved that there is a link between the private rented properties in the proposed designated area of Bootle and deprivation, poor property conditions ASB and crime. 

Along with evidence of the poor management of a significant number of privately rented properties that has led to problems for both their tenants, local communities and other members of the public. 

Sefton has considered whether there are any courses of action, other than continuing with Selective Licensing, that might achieve the same objectives in the proposed area, however, concludes that re-designating a Selective Licensing area is the most appropriate course of action in the circumstances.

The Selective Licensing scheme proposed re-designation is a large proportion of Bootle, the list of roads and map of the area can be seen in the document below.

Selective Licensing has proved successful in several Local Authorities and had a substantial impact on landlord and agent behaviour and improved their engagement and relationship with them.

Sefton’s current Selective Licensing scheme has identified that large numbers of landlords are not aware of (or do not undertake) the legal requirements when renting out property such as undertaking gas and electric safety checks, having an energy performance assessment undertaken, lodging deposits received from tenants into an approved deposit protection scheme or providing the deposit prescribed information and all other legally required documentation to tenants. 

Since the commencement of the licencing schemes in March 2018 to end of August 2021, 570 compliance inspections were undertaken by licensing Compliance Officers, out of which 288 of these properties had serious Category 1 health and safety hazards removed.

The total number of hazards removed from all licensable properties is 1113 and 370 of them being the most serious Category 1 hazards.

The main hazards that have been removed from the properties are hazards relating to Fire Safety, Electrical Hazards, Damp & Mould, Excess cold and Falls between levels.

Since the number of compliance visits undertaken was severely below target due to the Covid pandemic, the Council is satisfied that there remain many properties that are occupied by tenants which also contain health and safety hazards. 

Therefore, re-designating the Bootle Selective Licensing area will provide the Council the ability to inspect more properties and remove those hazards to ensure the occupiers live in a safe and healthy home.

Selective Licensing requires landlords or their agents to demonstrate they are ‘fit and proper’ and have no criminal convictions which may affect their management of the property, that they have satisfactory management and financial arrangements, as well as having adequate procedures in place for dealing with problem tenants. 

Management arrangements include things such as making sure the property is safe to live in and issuing the tenant with a written tenancy agreement. 

Licence holders will also have to provide annual gas safety records and adhere to a number of conditions as part of their licence. 

You can find the draft licence conditions here. 

Sefton Council will carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for a licence is a “fit and proper person”.  In deciding whether someone is “fit and proper”, Sefton must take into account, amongst other matters:

  1. Any offences involving fraud or other dishonesty, or violence or drugs, or any offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

  2. Any unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins or disability in, or in connection with the carrying on of any business.

  3. Any contravention of any provision of the law relating to housing or of landlord and tenant law.

  4. Any person involved in the management of the property has sufficient level of competence to be so involved.

  5. Any person involved in the management of the house is a fit and proper person to be so involved.

Sefton can also decide if a person is not “fit and proper” as a result of association with other persons who would not be considered “fit and proper” where this would affect the management of a licensed property.

Sefton Council intends to inspect all licensed properties during the period of the licence to ensure compliance of licence conditions. 

During the current scheme, the ability to undertake inspections was severely impacted by Covid restrictions put upon Council Officers so we are unable to inspect every licensable property before the end of the current scheme. 

If a licence is issued and the conditions are subsequently breached, this could lead to a fine of any amount for each breach.  

A breach of licence conditions could also lead to the revocation of the licence and unless a suitable alternative licence holder could be found, the Council may take over the management of the property by issuing an Interim Management Order (IMO).

It is a criminal offence to operate without a licence in a designated area and could result in the landlord/owner being prosecuted.  On conviction the landlord/owner could face an unlimited fine and any rent collected during the unlicensed period could be reclaimed by either the tenant or the council. Alternatively, the Council may serve a Civil Penalty Notice with a fine not exceeding £30,000.

The local authority will be able to apply to the first-tier property chamber for a rent repayment order to recoup any housing benefit the landlord has received during the unlicensed period (maximum 12 months).  No offence is committed if there is an outstanding application for a licence or a temporary exemption notice is in force.

The licence fee will be based on the cost of delivering the Licensing scheme over the 5-year period. 

Exact costs are yet to be determined, although, proposed figures are available within the business case and are subject to this consultation. 

Applicants may also be eligible for a reduction on the fee. 

The licence holder (or landlord) will be responsible for paying the licence fee for each property.

The Council is not permitted to obtain financial gain from the fees paid through the licensing process.  

The fee charged will cover the costs associated with administering the Licensing Schemes.

The proposed fee for a licence is affordable. 

We believe that irresponsible landlords who do not keep their properties in good condition and do not manage them properly may decide to sell, this opens up their properties to people that will manage them well.  

Licensing will improve the image of the sector as a whole and will help encourage responsible landlords to invest in Sefton.

The council intends to continue to build upon working relationship with responsible private sector landlords as part of the proposed licensing schemes.  

Specific support measures will include (not limited to):

  • A reduced licensing fee for properties accredited with Sefton’s Property Accreditation Scheme
  • Support will be provided to landlords in relation to the licence standards
  • Support will be provided to landlords in relation to dealing with ASB issues within their properties

Selective Licensing requires landlords to adhere to a number of conditions as part of their licence.  

Officers from Sefton Council plan to inspect the property to ensure it is in a satisfactory condition and that any hazards found are addressed appropriately with your landlord. 

This provides you with the reassurance that checks have been done to ensure that the property is suitable for occupation.

Selective Licensing aims to ensure that privately rented properties in your area are being managed sufficiently and will enable the Council to take enforcement action against a wider range of properties, where necessary, addressing issues such as property condition or anti-social behaviour.  

This should result in benefits to all residents, businesses and visitors to the local area.

We will be consulting with landlords, agents, tenants, residents, local businesses, regional and national landlord associations, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, neighbouring local authorities and other stakeholders.

You can respond to the consultation online, here.

This consultation is being carried out on behalf of Sefton Council by independent market research company M.E.L. Research, an accredited Market Research Society Company Partner that abides by the MRS Code of Conduct.

You can contact M.E.L. by telephone: 0800 073 0348

Email: seftonprs@melresearch.co.uk

 

The consultation will close at 23:59 on Sunday 31st July 2022 and the results will be collated and published on Sefton’s website when ready for presenting to Cabinet.

The responses from the consultation will be reviewed by elected members and a decision will then be made to accept or reject the scheme.  

If the scheme goes ahead, it is expected to start from 1st March 2023 at the earliest.

This consultation is being carried out on behalf of Sefton Council by independent market research company M.E.L. Research, an accredited Market Research Society Company Partner that abides by the MRS Code of Conduct.

You can contact M.E.L. at:

MEL Research
Somerset House
37 Temple Street
Birmingham
B2 5DP                                    

Tel: 0800 073 0348

Email: seftonprs@melresearch.co.uk

Housing Standards Team
Sefton Council                                      
Magdalen House
30 Trinity Road
Bootle
L20 3NJ                      

Email: landlord.licensing@sefton.gov.uk

 


Last Updated on Friday, May 6, 2022

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