Selective Licensing Leicester - Time is Running Out to Avoid Fines

Enforcement is on the cards

This is the third in the series of blogs I’ve written about the introduction of the Leicester Selective Licensing Scheme. So, an apology: I’m sorry if this seems like the needle is stuck in a groove (and further apologies to everyone wondering what that analogy means, if you’ve never even seen a long-playing record…).

But, no apologies for continuing to warn unwary landlords that Selective Licensing is here in Leicester, it’s not going away…and we believe it’s about to get teeth.

The Council want to know who you are

Leicester City Council have written to all letting agents requiring them to complete a spreadsheet with details of landlords in the affected areas. This includes those who self-manage but for whom an agent has even provided just a Tenant Find Service.

It’s a fairly understandable if uncomfortable request: in LCC’s last newsletter about the Leicester Selective Licensing Scheme they advised that out of 8000+ homes in the affected areas, only 2,300 had made applications for licenses. And of these, 70% were being completed incorrectly.

Are you affected by Leicester Selective Licensing?

Leicester Selective Licensing

First, check your position here: use this LCC Interactive Map. This will immediately show you if a property you rent out is in one of the so-far limited areas chosen for the Scheme.

Also, note the cost: at £1090 the Leicester Selective Licensing Scheme is one of the most expensive in the country.

Now let’s look at the implications if you are in one of these areas, but have not applied for your license.

What does it mean for a landlord that does not have a license?

A Selective License is a legal requirement sanctioned by the Housing Act 2004. As such, absence of a license automatically means a breach of the legal obligations of a landlord. We absolutely hate being the bearers of bureaucratic bad news for already hard-pressed landlords, but it’s so important that you know the score. So, the brief summary of the costs and risks of failing to secure a license are:

  • Loss of the original 10% early application discount that applied for the first six months
  • Far more concerningly, a Rent Repayment Order could potentially be awarded against the landlord. This means the requirement to repay all rent paid by your tenant(s) for the entire duration of a tenancy that is running when a Selective License is due. This could be sensationally expensive.
  • 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.
  • And now, the imminent imposition of fines by Leicester City Council for non-compliance with the demand to secure a Selective License in Leicester. It’s heaping ignominy upon financial pain, and the requirement for the license will still be there.

What scale of fines are we talking about?

We do not yet know the scale of fines that could potentially be levied. LCC told me that initial fines were likely to be relatively soft-touch – perhaps a few hundred pounds (still pretty unwelcome in my book, but to be regarded as a rap on the knuckles at this stage).

But fines for total non-compliance will rise to thousands of pounds in due course. We know of cases in established Selective Licensing Schemes in London where fines have amounted to tens of thousands of pounds. Take a look at this gulp-inducing recent news: £90,000 fines in Brent, London.

Honestly, this is no joke. Let’s talk about helping to address the core issue.

Start taking steps to get your license

Your first option is to download our self-help Leicester Selective Licensing Scheme checklist. This helpful guide documents all the steps we have gone through ourselves to secure licenses on multiple properties. It includes links to the relevant website pages, the interactive map, and tips on how to get your Fire Safety Risk Assessment done, your floor plans drawn up, and other things you will need to successfully secure your license.

Licensing checklist displayed on a tablet.

As we say, 70% of applications are being done incorrectly, and that’s a wasteful place to start. Use the checklist and get ahead of the game.

The main thing is that our Selective Licensing Checklist is FREE, and can be downloaded here (or click the image). But be aware that this is going to involve some hours of work, assuming your paperwork and documentation is all in good shape. There will also be the inspection visit by LCC inspectors to contend with, and access to arrange through your tenants.

Get help applying for the Leicester Selective Licensing Scheme

Application service - button

Recognising that landlords are all busy folk, Northwood Leicester offers an Application Service to take the load. For a reasonable fee, the expert team here will do the whole job and secure your license, including meeting with the LCC inspector and discussing any remedial issues in the property. These can be quite minor: are you aware that window restrictors are a requirement, for instance?

Take a look at our dedicated Application Service page here.

The team at Northwood Leicester have to make a charge for all the work involved in an application for Selective Licensing in Leicester. But the alternative of leaving things to chance, or even leaving it undone, is now becoming so perilous for landlords. A discount applies if management of an affected property is switched to Northwood Leicester.

Will your property “pass” Selective Licensing requirements?

The start point for any landlord is always to ensure that their letting is compliant with all the landlord regulations. This alone is not easy for a busy landlord, with 160+ pieces of legislation applying to the sector. The task is only going to get harder as the Renters (Reform) Bill makes its expected passage through Parliament through 2023 and 2024.

MOT your rental - sign

The necessity of checking you have everything properly covered in the lettings rules for landlords can be dealt with by taking a free Lettings MOT through Northwood. Option 1 is simply to self-complete the smart-form under this link (or click the icon), which produces a score that will be sent out to you automatically. This enables you to assess whether there are things in your letting that are non-compliant – a really handy way to attack the tasks that will improve your letting as well as your application for Selective Licensing in Leicester.

Gosia Prazeniak - director of Northwood Leicester

Alternatively, option 2 is to let us know if you want one of our experts to run through an audit of your letting. This too is free: any bugs in your letting can be identified and we can help remedy them. Many of the small issues that we spot in non-compliant lettings can be sorted without cost; other, more complex tasks may involve more dedicated service at a fee, but this will always be worth attending to as the consequences of non-compliance are painful. Gosia’s our team leader for this service.

Conclusions?…don’t delay

Simply call or complete this form if you want more advice. At the very least, download our checklist all about the Leicester City Council Selective Licensing Scheme, and get prepared.

Always here to help.