A new Selective Licensing scheme for private landlords in Nottingham has been approved by Nottingham City Council to help safeguard and improve housing standards for tenants.

Plans for a new Selective Licensing scheme were approved at the councils Executive Board today (Tuesday 24 May). Selective Licensing requires all landlords to licence any privately rented property they have within a designated area. The scheme allows Nottingham City Council to make sure licensed rented homes meet certain conditions, that they are safe, well managed and that the landlord is a ’fit and proper person.’

The plans are for a brand new Selective Licensing scheme and not a renewal of the first scheme introduced in August 2018. This is because each licensing scheme can run for up to five years, then evidence needs to be gathered and presented again to confirm whether another scheme meets one or more of the conditions of the Housing Act 2004 (see below) and government guidance.[1].

This new scheme would continue the important work already carried out during the first scheme to make sure that privately rented homes are safer, suitable for tenants to live in and that they are managed effectively. It will give the council additional resource and powers to safeguard tenants and hold non-compliant landlords to account.

Privately rented housing has grown considerably within Nottingham and is an important part of providing a range of housing in the city, so it is vital that these properties are of a good standard and well managed. A refreshed stock survey done by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) found that the city’s private rented sector has increased to 45,500 properties in 2021, from 43,000 in 2016.

A Selective Licensing scheme or ’designation’ may be made if an area has a high proportion of private rented homes and meets one or more conditions laid out in the Housing Act 2004. The council believes a new licensing scheme should be considered for a large area of the city including Bulwell, St Ann’s, The Meadows, Hyson Green, Radford, Forest Fields and Lenton, based on:

  1. Significant or persistent problems caused by anti-social behaviour
  2. Crime and ASB rate is significantly higher in areas with a high number of private rented households, with 72% of all ASB reports coming from these areas
  • Poor property conditions
  • Areas with a high number of rented homes are more than twice as likely to experience issues of disrepair, one and a half times more likely to experience excess cold and four times more likely to report issues of disrepair
  • Almost all housing complaints to the Council are attributable to the private rented sector
  • High levels of deprivation
  • Nottingham is the 11th most deprived district in the country and the fourth most deprived of the Core Cities
  • 56 areas of Nottingham are in the 10% most deprived in the country, and 104 are in the 20% most deprived.
  • High levels of crime
  • Areas with larger numbers of rented homes have 25% more reports of dwelling related crime on average, than other areas
  • These areas also have higher incidences of all types of crime compared to the city overall and are almost twice as likely to experience crime as the rest of the city

A second scheme of Selective Licensing would enable the council to not only support landlords in making sure that their properties meet certain standards, but also help to improve and tackle key issues, as well as improving the overall health and wellbeing of tenants due to improved housing conditions.

The plans set out the areas in Nottingham that would potentially be covered by the scheme. It is anticipated that the cost of the licence would be £820 for five years with a proposed fee of £630 for accredited landlords. There are also recommendations to introduce a higher fee for less compliant landlords of £1,110. There is also a proposed Block Licence for certain blocks of flats, these fees are £1,840 standard fee, £1,125 accredited fee and a £2,295 less compliant fee.*

As with the first scheme, the council would not be allowed to make any surplus on the scheme and all revenue from the licence fees would only be used to cover the cost of administering the scheme.

Councillor Toby Neal, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Human Resources, said: “People renting privately have a right to expect a decent standard of accommodation. The impact of poor quality and badly managed accommodation can be very negative on the tenants. The local neighbourhood also suffers because of poorly managed properties and the crime and anti-social behaviour that can follow.

“Selective Licensing works to tackle poor housing conditions and poor management and to drive up standards in the private rented sector. The first Scheme has helped improve property conditions, management standards and helped to make homes safer through the removal of dangerous hazards such as electrical and gas safety, damp and mould, as well as slip, trip and fall hazards.

“We believe that there is more work needed to support landlords to comply with their responsibilities and it is important that standards are maintained and continue to improve where needed.”

A new Selective Licensing scheme is about helping to improve homes in the private rented sector and make homes in Nottingham safer and warmer places to live. This scheme ties into Nottingham City Council’s Housing Strategy, which sets out how improvements can be made to the private and social housing sector. With Nottingham City Council already investing in improving their own housing stock and working towards making more council homes warmer, energy efficient and to a higher standard.

A consultation will take place with tenants, residents, landlords and other interested parties from 30 May until 21 August 2022. Following the outcome of the consultation period, the council would then need to decide whether it will make a designation or not, and if it does will need to make an application to the Secretary of State for approval to introduce a new scheme.

[1] Gov.UK (2015) Selective Licensing in the Private Rented Sector: A Guide for Local Authorities