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Government backs selective licensing after TEN different probes

There have been no fewer than 10 different enquiries into selective licensing of landlords or rental properties by local councils - and the government says it’s still backing the principle.

The House of Commons Library has published a useful history of selective licensing in a document which although aimed at MPs and Peers is also available to the public. 

It explains that local authorities in England and Wales have had discretion to apply these schemes since April 2006 (when Labour was in power) under the Housing Act 2004. It’s been modified more recently - in England, since April 2015 (by then a Conservative government) the Housing Secretary’s permission must be sought for any selective licensing scheme covering more than 20 per cent of the authority’s geographical area or where it affects more than 20 per cent of privately rented homes in the area. 

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However, a surprise for many readers will be the high number of investigations into whether selective licensing actually works, and meets the objectives claimed by councils of improving housing conditions and reducing anti-social behaviour.

The House of Commons Library document lists the different probes:

- 2007 Department of Communities and Local Government investigation;

- 2008 Rugg and Rhodes University of York Review;

- 2010 Building Research Establishment investigation;

- 2012/13 Communities and Local Government Select Committee;

- 2014 Department of Communities and Local Government consultation; 

- 2017/18 Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee;

- 2018 Rugg and Rhodes University of York Review;

- 2019 Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and the Chartered Institute of Housing investigation;

- 2019 Government independent review of licensing;

- 2023 Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee.

The most recent response to all of these was earlier this year when the government told the LUHC Select Committee there were “no plans to scrap” selective licensing but work will be carried out to minimise duplication with other initiatives. 

You can read the House of Commons Library report in full here.

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