Selective Licensing in Leicester - the Door Knocking has Started

Sorry to bring a chill to the festive cheer, but Leicester City Council’s latest update on progress of the Selective Licensing Scheme has just hit my inbox, and it contains some pretty chilly comments.

Fines are looming

Here’s the lowdown on this, direct from the LCC newsletter:

Landlords who fail to license their properties are committing an offence and are at risk of being issued with a civil penalty up to £30,000 or being prosecuted.

That’s bad enough, but if convicted at Magistrates Court, it gets worse:

A conviction at Magistrate’s Court is punishable by an unlimited fine.

Your tenant can get something too…

For any landlord who isn’t aware of it, a Rent Repayment Order is something that decent compliance means you don’t have to worry about. Not having a Selective License is an immediate confirmation that you do not have decent compliance:

Operating an unlicensed property may also result in tenants being able to apply for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) and you may be ordered to repay up to 12 months rent to your tenants! (That’s my emphasis – a sign of how worrying – and unnecessary – this outcome would be).

Did you know that your Section 21 rights disappear?

By definition, if you don’t have Leicester’s legally required Selective License, you do not have the required documentation to bring a successful Section 21 Notice to Court.

Here’s how I referred to this in a previous blog on the subject in August:

“You could lose the ability to issue a Section 21 Notice for repossession of your own property. Picture the scene: you want your property back for the most legitimate of reasons, such as a desire to sell in these harsh times for landlords; all your documents like gas safety certificates, Prescribed Information, How to Rent Guide have all been issued correctly; your tenant contests the Section 21 and a hearing is held; you are in a Selective Licensing area and you did not secure a license – you will fail to get your Section 21 approved, and you are back to square one”.

So you can’t even remove a tenant and sell your property to avoid getting the Leicester Selective License.

Surely by now we are talking about a very few obstinate landlords?

You’d think, right? The scheme has been going since October 2022. Yet LCC confirm they have only issued 2426 licenses, from 3313 applications. That leaves, by their estimate, over 6000 unlicensed properties.

So LCC are taking enforcement action, starting with door knocking. Again, to quote their mail 2024 will see the selective licensing team actively seeking out landlords and agents that have not applied for a licence, and will begin taking enforcement action where appropriate.

Am I even affected?

It’s easy to identify the areas where Leicester’s Selective Licensing Scheme operates. Just click on the image here.

Leicester selective licensing map

And costs are rising…

The image above shows the Selective Licensing Leicester fee as it stands today. LCC advise that by the time they complete their visits in May 2024, the fee will have risen to £1290! It’s already possibly the highest fee in the country (I haven’t heard of any higher fees despite checking London boroughs, for instance), but clearly it’s going to get worse.

Granted, there’s a point to the scheme as LCC see it: it’s aiming to raise housing standards in the private rented sector in locations where LCC perceive housing standards have been most questionable. It is a very large sledgehammer to crack a nut when one takes into account the good properties we see being rented in these exact areas. But when so many landlords are not applying for their license you have to concede that LCC have the argument nailed.

Northwood Leicester to the Rescue: Your Selective Licensing Sherpas

Here’s where we, at Northwood Leicester, step in. Think of us as your guides through the Selective Licensing foothills and peaks. We’ve been there, done that, and got our landlords safely through, hassle-free. We have undertaken numerous successful applications for landlords. We’re talking expert advice, insider tips, and a friendly ear whenever you need it.

The application can take a good many hours of work: it depends on how good your documentation is and whether you have secured the additional things LCC require like a Fire Safety Risk Assessment. And even whether you have simple plastic window restrictors – not a legal requirement except in defined circumstances, but as LCC have deemed them necessary, woe betide the landlord who leaves them out and expects their license application to sail through.

There, that’s an insider tip for you. And there’s probably more to consider as we have open dialogue with LCC and want to help landlords get over these peaks.

Real Success Stories: Our Clients Speak Out

Don’t just take our word for it – our clients are our biggest fans. They’ve seen the difference we make. Paul is one of our longest standing landlords: we’ve managed two of his apartments in Leicester for nearly two decades. Unfortunately, these flats have now emerged as smack in Leicester’s Selective Licensing area. Paul tried navigating the application process himself and ran into a few issues; here’s his comment on how the Northwood Leicester team solved the problem.

“Leicester’s Selective Licensing hit me hard with two affected properties, but I had to act fast as they were already promoting fines for landlords. Gosia and her Northwood team solved everything by taking on the applications and dealing with the council. Really fast, really effective”

Are you getting good advice?

Concerned landlords should be able to rely on high quality advice from their letting agents about Leicester Selective Licensing. Even if you only use an agent for a Tenant Find service and no ongoing management, you’d still hope that advice would be forthcoming.

However, LCC say that they have not had any reply to their request for information on landlords from over 150 agents in Leicestershire. I guess you have to conclude, or at least hope, that none of those have an affected landlord…

Whatever, Northwood Leicester is available to help and is already assisting many landlords, several out of the country who were completely unaware of the issue.

Do-It-Yourself with Our Handy Selective Licensing Checklist

Fancy tackling the application yourself? No problem! We’ve got a nifty checklist that’s just the ticket. It’s like having a mini Northwood Leicester in your pocket – guiding you every step of the way.

Click on the image to go straight to this helpful nugget. It won’t save you the hours of work, but it’ll guide you and it’s free. With all the costs of the license itself every little helps.

Handy selective licensing checklist displayed on tablet.

Wrapping It Up: Your Peace of Mind Around Leicester Selective Licensing

We completely get some aspects of the reluctance to engage with Selective Licensing. It’s like getting that shock speeding ticket and you put it to one side until you can bring yourself to deal with it. But I’m afraid that 14 months-in burying one’s heads in the sand just makes it difficult to breathe. Looming fines will only make it worse.

The message is clear: the time to act is now. Failing to comply with Leicester’s Selective Licensing scheme poses real risks, both legally and financially. Northwood Leicester is here to support you, ensuring you navigate these challenges with confidence and security.

Call us any time on our WhatsApp dedicated support line: 07594 476403

Or fill in this form to get a call back from us once we know you have a Selective Licensing issue.

Northwood Leicester: Relax, We’ll Take Care Of It.