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Call for “sentencing guidelines” to punish landlords over licensing

A charity is calling for landlord licensing schemes which cost enough to fund annual inspections, and the issuing of “sentencing guidelines” to punish landlords who break the rules.

Safer Renting - a charity which describes itself as being “at the forefront of advocating for essential reforms in the private rental sector” - makes the demand along with 13 other recommendations, in a report looking at how licensing works in five London boroughs.

The charity claims that since being established 20 years ago, licensing has become the ‘go-to’ tool for London local authorities to regulate the private rented sector.


In a report it says: “Selective Licensing needs strengthening with enhanced programmes of inspection and enforcement. This report adds to the government’s own data, showing that even where licensing is in place, landlord non-compliance is the norm. The report recommends improving enforcement powers with measures such as annual property inspections and continuing schemes until there is evidence it is no longer required.”

And it argues against the belief that the property portal proposal contained in the Renters Reform Bill actually makes licensing redundant.

Instead it claims: “Abolishing selecting licensing risks undermining the entire stated purpose of the Renters Reform Bill: improved security of tenure for renters isn’t really worth having if the homes they have the right to stay in aren’t fit for human habitation.”

Looking in details at Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Waltham Forest, and Westminster, the campaign group then makes a string of recommendations.

- Establish collaborative procurement clubs with other local authorities to acquire digital IT solutions tailored to support licensing and enforcement.

- Amend the Housing Act 2004 to establish property licensing, such that schemes are set up to continue unless and until there is evidence enforcement standards are no longer necessary

- Lengthen the minimum initial term of licensing schemes to 10 years to allow for the process of scheme mobilisation, data and intelligence gathering to be reached, outcomes to start to be delivered and for set up costs to be recouped

- Recognise the need for start-up or gap funding to support local authorities in establishing new licensing schemes during their initial term

- Conduct wholesale reform of the Housing Health & Safety Rating System to make it easier to understand and administer and to give equal priority to addressing long term health risks alongside immediate health hazards

- Make the minimum property standards for which enforcement powers and procedures in Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 are provided, part of the core licence requirements of Parts 2 and 3, ending the need for Part 1 local authority Notices and enforcement procedures to be followed in the case of licensable property, whether or not it is so licensed. 

- Rationalise the definitions of property licence to make it easier in Section 257 (S.257) HMOs to determine who is the ‘responsible person’ in mixed ownership and control buildings and allow licence types to be inter-operable when there is a minor change in the use and occupation.

- Remove high-risk properties (eg short-term lets and all types of temporary accommodation) from the exemption list for licensing.

- Create a mandatory national database for all private rented housing and its owners/managers.

- Develop a National Workforce Plan for the nationwide expansion of property licensing.

- Publish property licensing good practice guidance to local authorities.


  • Amend First Tier Property Tribunal procedures to protect councils from landlords’ frivolous and vexatious appeals to Financial Penalties.


  • The issuing, by the Ministry of Justice sentence council, of “sentencing guidelines for the prosecution of licensing offices.”

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    More reasons to sell, sell, sell. Another so-called charity (Cambridge House) having a go at landlords.

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    I think I might start charging the tenants twice going forward. 1) Rent as a return on the capital invests and 2) a Salary to work full time dealing with all of this nonsense coming up.

  • Karen  Flynn

    Yep will be selling my final rental. Have also sold my Scottish rental.

    I own a Cattery and since the new Cattery/Kennels/ stables DEFRA Licensing and inspection fiasco, so many establishments have closed with one man in Kent committing suicide. Like an animal OFSTED. This licensing has doubled fees and inspections are just a further money grab. There is now a huge shortage of pet boarding establishments.

    My point is whenever these licensing tricks are introduced it will NEVER be in our favour. They are creating housing shortages .
    Those who choose to stay in the sector will raise rents 🤷‍♀️ What is their end game! ?

    Robert Black

    The game is to get money from anywhere to stop the incompetent councillors presiding over a bankrupt council We are just easy targets

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    Perhaps the charity would like to fund these inspections rather that just bleating and expecting landlords, and therefore tenants, to pay for them.

    Robert Black

    Now that is a great idea

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    Licensing can be used to get rid bad landlords can be good to get rid of 'bad' landlords. I would treat the subject more seriously if these 'independent' teams inspected local auhtority dwellings as well as housing association properties with equal rigor as they are the worse culprits when it bcomes to poor standards.

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    I thought licensing was to action inspections to improve the sector? Or is it really just another form of legalised theft I thought it was? We are just a toy all these so called charities ( businesses) keep playing with. They’ve broken it but won’t be happy until it’s in the bin.

  • Franklin I

    Before considering sending LLs to prison, it's paramount to implement the aforementioned measures.

    Currently, LLs are figuratively imprisoned by the plethora of government regulations, legislation, and tax implications imposed on them. What's needed is not a "get out of jail free card" but a fair and balanced regulatory framework.

    Also, before even contemplating the notion of incarcerating landlords, it's essential to establish mandatory mid-term inspections. These inspections would serve as a crucial component in fostering accountability and fairness within the rental sector.

    By regulating mid-term inspections, we ensure that both LLs and tenants are held to standards that promote habitable living conditions and responsible behaviour. This approach aligns with the principle of addressing issues proactively rather than resorting to punitive measures after the fact.

    This entails regulating not only LLs but also BTL mortgage lenders, estate agents, and tenants. Everyone involved in the rental ecosystem must be held accountable to ensure a level playing field and foster better practices across the board.


    Agreed, unfortunately there’s nothing ‘fair or balanced’ about the ongoing slaughter of the PRS.

  • Peter Why Do I Bother

    Two things that are apparent here in this article.

    1. Safer Renting? Never heard of them. How many 'Charities' Businesses have we got in this sector now and are they regulated in how they go about their business? Seriously doubt this.

    2. Licensing is used to get rid of bad landlords, have any of these complete set of Clowns from the businesses, sorry charities or councils stopped to think that it does not matter what they do the underground landlords will not license nor will they put their hand up to be counted.

    It is nothing more than a money grab, stealth tax or whatever you want to call it. Either way landlords will sell up and move on, tenants however will then find it more difficult to get a property and when they do it will be double the price.

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    If licencing comes in it will mean more cost for landlords so in turn higher costs for tenants. A tenant can view a property and if it doesn't meet their standards then they should not rent it. It's that simple.


    Could not agree more.

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    Another fine example of deluded fools drowning in the usual far left politics and crying and raging whilst going green with misplaced envy.
    Too ignorant to understand that LLs don’t and won’t tolerate their rubbish and that their ‘red taping campaign’ will hurt only tenants.
    The concept of regulated so called ‘Charities’ clearly needs a deep clean.

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    Why not create a national database of tenants where LL can rate them. What's good for the goose.....

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    Yep, I can hear the supply of rented housing expanding rapidly as we speak…



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    Why not have sentencing guidelines simply to punish somebody for being a small private landlord. They might as well make it clear to everyone that they want to get rid of us and are persecuting us.

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    Another Attack, that's all they do attack and vilify with out any justification. The number of poor LL in the PRS is very small and the current law / systems are more then adequate to deal with any issues if local authorities would do their jobs properly. Ironically we see more poor quality homes issues with Local Authority homes than PRS home, but it the PRS they want to charge to license and the people who they want to monitor the PRS are the same Local Authority staff that have shown themselves to be incapable of running their own property properly.

    Licensing schemes are a grubby money grab to pay for expensive public sector staff and their massive pension costs, these people are out of control.

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    Honestly! Where do they dig these people up from? What government data that says that even where there is a licensing scheme, landlord non-compliance is the norm? What tosh and as for ANNUAL inspections - get into the real world.....

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    And People wonder why there is a shortage of Properties to rent ?
    Licensing is actually the go to tool for London local Authorities to scam money of Landlords /Tenants.
    Lets have a bit of truth in the article. This is just another group of idiots purporting to represent tenants when actually they're just trying to create problems that don't exist so they can receive funding from somewhere.

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    Martin, it goes without saying when I Checked the Register without crowing my House was only one with a HMO license (and for 3 fiver year terms) in the posts code say 150 properties mostly 3 story at least 60% let.
    Similar story everywhere I checked just a few in each post code although more getting them now but what about the last 15+ I just made myself a target for the Council.

  • Catherine Fiona Henshaw-Brett

    Your right. The succesive governments have created this. The charities get handouts and there are not enough homes flats for Britsh people. The system is corrupt and the ordinary people suffer. The State the Church the whole World has gone MAD


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