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Selective Licensing

Durham County Council has just bought in a new scheme to regulate landlords and managing agents of private rented property in selected areas of County Durham.  The scheme covers approximately 29,000 homes which is over 40% of the properties in the county’s private rented sector.  They are planning for it to come into place on 1st April 2022 but they are still in consultations so there may yet be changes. 

The aim of the selective licencing is to:

  • ensure that private rented properties offer tenants a choice of safe and well managed accommodation and where necessary, raise standards of private rented properties.
  • improve health and wellbeing of tenants - it is recognised that poor housing standards can have a major impact on the health and wellbeing
  • provide safe and healthy homes by reducing housing hazards and disrepair
  • reduce anti-social behaviour by 10% from baseline figures
  • improve management standards increasing compliance rates

These principles are in line with ours at Ready to Let and Ready to Rent Management.  Since we set up the business 5 years ago we have been buying properties in County Durham which have been left to get run down and are in a poor condition and refurbishing them to a standard which exceeds the Durham Decent Homes Standard, improving the desirability of the properties and the neighbourhoods and homing approximately 10 families in superior homes per month.

Check that you are eligible for a Licence

You and anyone else involved in the management of the property (for example, a manager or managing agent) must show they a 'fit and proper person'. This means they will be assessed for any:

  • offences involving fraud or other dishonesty, or violence or drugs, or any offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offenders Act 2003
  • unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, or disability
  • breaches of housing or landlord and tenant law

Our management agency, Ready to Rent Management is already a member of Durham County Councils' Private Landlord Accreditation Scheme and all of our properties are refurbished to the minimum of the Durham Decent Home Standard.  We will provide you all the documents and information that you will need to apply for the selective licence.

Check if your property requires a licence

Selective Licensing Postcode Checker 

Fees and discounts

Discounts

Discounts are available if:

  • you apply within six months of the application process opening - you will receive an early bird discount of £60
  • you are accredited with us on 31 March 2020 or are accredited with the National Residential Landlords Association - you will receive a discount of £55

Fees

The licence fee is a one off charge of £500 per property and is payable in two parts, the first on application and the second when the licence is granted. 

If you apply for a licence on or before 31 July 2022 you will receive the appropriate discount:

  • you are accredited and own multiple properties then the fee is £350 per property (Part A £165, Part B £185)
  • you are accredited and own just one single property then the fee is £385 per property (Part A £200, Part B £185)
  • you are not accredited and own multiple properties then the fee is £405 per property (Part A £165, Part B £240)
  • you are not accredited and own just one single property then the fee is £440 per property (Part A £200, Part B £240)

Apply for a Licence

Link - https://propertylicensing.durham.gov.uk/

 

Licencing Conditions

Link to PDF from Durham County Council

 

Important – Law and Appeals

It is an offence to let a property within a selective licensing area without a licence. You could face prosecution and an unlimited fine, or a civil fine of up to £30,000 if they fail to obtain a licence or breach of the conditions of the licence.

If we are unable to grant a licence, or have to remove a licence, Durham County Council may take over the management of the property. A licence can be refused for a property if you do not meet the fit and proper person criteria or cannot demonstrate you have adequate management arrangements in place.

An application for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) may also be made which, if granted, will require you to pay back up to 12 months rental income from the property.

You can appeal through Gov.uk: Solve a residential property dispute within 28 days if they disagree with any of Durham County Council decisions.

Exemptions

Licensing exemptions include:

  • local Housing Authorities or Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations) tenancies
  • holiday lets
  • a family member renting the property from you (proof required) 
  • long lease tenancies (21 years) 
  • business tenancies
  • properties where we has taken action to close the property down 
  • licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) under part two of the Housing Act 2004 
  • temporary exemption notices
  • empty properties (a licence must be successfully applied for, before a tenant can move into the property)
  • temporary exemption notices for up to three months if you decide to sell the property or live in it

Background

The proposals for a new scheme were put forward on 16 September 2020 and the Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities approved them on 30 November 2021, however the details of the scheme have only been made available recently and application process for the licences has only just opened up.

For More information please see https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/2882/Selective-licensing-of-privately-rented-properties