Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in the number of local councils introducing landlord licensing schemes throughout England and Wales.

Licensing schemes increase the time and cost needed to manage your business. They have been brought in to tackle unscrupulous landlords, even though the majority of landlords already comply with the various laws governing tenants and rented properties.

It used to be just HMOs that needed licensing, but increasingly local authorities require landlords to be licensed for every property they rent out. It stems from the Housing Act of 2004, which came into force in April 2006 and allows local housing authorities the right to establish selective licensing schemes to regulate the private rented sector.

 It is the landlord’s responsibility to know if licensing is required for their property and what the criteria are. To obtain one, a landlord must not only meet the standards set out in the scheme’s rules and regulations, but also adhere to them throughout the entire term of the licence. Failure to do so could result in severe penalties, with fines of up to £5,000 per offence.


Licensing costs

Licences usually run for five years and the costs of obtaining one vary from borough to borough. Across England, they can be as low as £200 (Liverpool) and as high as £1,000 (Bristol).

In London, Brent is among the cheapest, charging £340 per property, while Croydon is among the most expensive, with rates as high as £750. Most others charge £500 per licence. These fees exclude compliance costs.

Bucking the trend are Barnet and Wandsworth Councils, which have opted not to adopt selective licensing schemes. However, they do operate mandatory and additional HMO licence schemes.

Ways to save money

The easiest way to save money is to invest in those London boroughs which have opted out of selective and additional licensing schemes. Even in areas where such schemes exist, many local housing authorities will offer a discount to landlords with multiple properties in their borough. Our team can advise you on the best spots in London to avoid these charges.

The law is clear – local authorities can only charge fees to cover the cost of administering the scheme, not to make a profit. With several landlords mounting legal challenges against the high cost of some of these schemes, it is possible these costs may fall.

Associated inspections

Regular inspections are a way of rooting out rogue landlords. However, they are also extremely time-consuming for compliant landlords, as each visit must be carefully documented. As one of the leading agents in London and the South East, we can deal with these routine inspections for landlords.

Compliance certificates

Each local housing authority has a different set of rules governing licensing: whatever they are, they are guaranteed to eat into your time, and even the smallest of errors could result in your licence application being rejected or revoked.

AMS Housing removes the hassle of compliance by overseeing all health and safety inspections and securing the right certification to fulfil your licence obligations. We complete the paperwork, submit and track for you, and our attention to detail means we rarely have a problem. Read more about our compliance inspection services here.

Depending on the local authority

All of this takes up valuable time that a landlord could be using to better effect and is basically a hassle for all landlords. Other agents don’t provide peace of mind in this area by helping the landlord deal with licensing. AMS Housing wants to take away the hassle of landlord licensing because we know that a landlord wants to make deals and live their life – not spend their time filling in council forms – there are certainly better things to do.

Client Testimonial

I used to have a terrible time with the local council when it came to getting my properties licensed as HMOs. I didn’t understand all the rules, which seemed to change every year. It turned into a regular battle between me and the authorities to show them I was adhering to the rules. I was recommended to approach AMS Housing by a friend and spoke to Jed. True to his word, he took care of it all for me. Through AMS’s help, I now get all my HMO licences through without issue every time. They also help me with the other inspections at my property. I am now far less stressed – something my wife and kids have also mentioned!

Harpreet Singh, Essex