What is Selective Licensing?
The Housing Act 2004 gives Councils the power to introduce the licensing of private rented homes, within a designated area, where it is or is likely to become either:
- an area of low housing demand; and/or
- an area which is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour.
In March 2015, the Government extended the conditions for designation of selective licensing in England. The Selective Licensing of Houses (Additional Conditions) (England) Order 2015/977 and also permits licensing where:
The area contains a high proportion of properties in the private rented sector (PRS),and one or more of specified further conditions also apply:
– Housing conditions: the local housing authorities considers it appropriate and intends to carry out inspection of a significant number of properties to determine the existence of category 1 and 2 hazards, with a view to taking any necessary enforcement action;
– Migration: the area has “recently experienced or is experiencing an influx of migration into it”; a significant number of properties are occupied by migrants; and the designation will assist the local housing authority to preserve or improve conditions in the area, ensure properties are properly managed, or prevent overcrowding;
– Deprivation: the area is “suffering from a high level of deprivation, which affects a significant number of the occupiers of [the] properties” and the designation will contribute to a reduction in deprivation;
– Crime levels: the area “suffers from high levels of crime”; criminal activity affects persons occupying the properties; and the designation will contribute to a reduction in crime levels “for the benefit of those living in the area”.
The aim of Selective Licensing is to improve the management of these properties to ensure they have a positive impact on the area.
On the 7th July 2017 the Council, acting in exercise of its powers under Sections 80 – 84 Housing Act 2004 (“the Act”), designated parts of Accrington and Church for selective licensing.
The designation required confirmation by the appropriate national authority. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government considered it appropriate to confirm the proposed designated area on the 27th November 2017. The designation will come into force on the 5th March 2018 and will end on the 4th March 2023, or earlier if the Council revokes the scheme under Section 84 of the Act.
The new selective licensing designation is an extended area when compared to the first/original designation (which came to an end on the 30th November 2017) and includes additional areas in West Accrington, Church, Spring Hill, Peel and the town centre (see map available for download).
These areas have been added because they are immediately adjacent to the first/original designation and are showing signs of low housing demand or are areas at risk of becoming areas of low housing demand.
The confirmation means that the Council will extend minimum operating standards in this area by ensuring that landlords keep to suitable management practices and maintain the condition of their properties. It requires landlords to comply with a range of licence conditions to ensure good property management and to hold a licence for properties rented in the designated area.
The designation Public Notice can also be downloaded.
From 5th March 2018, unless a notification in relation to a temporary exemption or an application for a licence is effective, any person who, without reasonable excuse, has control of or manages a house in the Area which is required to be licensed but is not so licensed, will be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to an unlimited fine. As an alternative to prosecution the Council may impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 for this offence. Additionally, an application may be made for a rent repayment order requiring the repayment of rent or housing benefit and no Notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of possession on termination of a shorthold tenancy) may be given in relation to the whole of or part of the unlicensed house.