Landlord licensing or rental property licensing exists because of a really wide range of factors.
These factors include:
an increase in the number of HMOs (houses in multiple occupation),
the vulnerability of tenants using HMOs,
the lack of renting experience these vulnerable groups may have,
the original design of the properties that have been converted into HMOs,
the risks involved in housing lots of unrelated people in the same property,
the financial attractiveness and appeal of operating a HMO,
the inconsistency of standards and quality of HMO property conditions.
In short, the government has issued laws to regulate the usage of HMOs to ensure the quality of housing is as high as possible.
Creating and maintaining licensing systems if costly, so local councils apply a licensing fee to the application.
There are different types of licensing for rental properties with different names.
In very very basic terms they are:
Mandatory - every rental property shared by 5 or more unrelated needs a licence, mandatorily.
Selective - every rental property in a selected area needs a licence, regardless of how many people it houses.
Additional - every rental property with 3 or 4 persons needs a licence, in addition to the mandatory scheme.
Housing is complex. Creating regulations and laws around housing is complex. It’s all complex, but in a nutshell, the local authority will do everything they can to let landlords know about an impending licensing scheme and run long consultations before rolling them out.
It depends on how many people are living in the property.
And if they’re related.
And how old they are.
And on the size of the rooms.
And on the waste disposal provision.
It’s complicated - but basically any property rented to 5 or more unrelated persons needs a HMO licence.
For some bedtime reading, have a read through ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property licensing reform’ - Guidance for Local Housing Authorities. It’s a hoot.
In the first paragraph of this article we stated the wide range of reasons why landlord licensing exists. The quality of housing in the private rental sector, the huge increase in private rental sector usage and the number of complaints about conditions all play their part.
Landlord licensing schemes are more common in some areas as some Councils have more rental housing than others.
Boroughs in inner London have a far greater percentage of private rental housing than rural Norwich.
Bricks and mortar are notoriously terrible at filling out forms, so instead of making them jump through those hoops, it’s the landlord or the landlord’s agent who has to complete the licence application.
Commonly landlords will be asked to provide evidence that the property is up to scratch, has an in-date and compliant EPC certificate, has all the gas and electrical certificates, and get references from their previous tenants. The landlord also needs to confirm that they are a ‘fit and proper’ person.
Then there’s the issue of the fees, which we’ll leave alone for this article!
So to answer the question, although the landlord has to make the application, it’s the property that’s licensed.
You go to tuxa.co.uk/search, enter the postcode of the property and the results will show if the property needs a landlord licence or not.
As it’s the local authority that normally issues licenses for private rented properties, the most accurate source of information on whether a property has a licence is obviously the local authority.
On Tuxa we’ve made it dead easy to find out which local authority a property is based by just searching the postcode https://tuxa.co.uk/search, finding the address from the results and looking for the heading ‘Local Authority’.
There’s a bunch of links through to the local authority website and links to all their social accounts.
You’ll need to contact the local authority to ask them if a property has a licence.
There is no central place to check and every different local authority has different ways of collecting and displaying the data.
We hope this answers your question as to where you can find out if a rental property needs a licence.