Birmingham City Council has announced it is introducing ‘selective licensing’ for the private rented market in the city, affecting around 40,000 – 50,000 properties across 25 wards.
The term ‘selective licensing’ comes from Section 80 of the Housing Act 2004. In a nutshell, it targets private landlords who will be subjected to a ‘fit and proper’ test by the local authority before they can be granted a licence over dwellings they wish to let on the private rental market. The schemes are introduced in areas where the local council wants to address specific problems such as anti-social behaviour and crime. The provisions of the Act allow the council to essentially step-in to the private rental market for a given area to exercise more controls over who can be a landlord, what is expected from the landlord, and how the landlord manages their tenants.
It is important for landlords to note that the scheme applies to dwellings, which means that whilst a landlord can obtain a licence for a block of flats they can be fined for breaches relating to each individual dwelling within the block, not just the block as a whole.
Breaches can vary depending on the conditions put in place as part of the licence. For example, it could be a requirement for the landlord to attend a training course in tenant management, or it can be a requirement for the landlord to take reasonable steps to prevent antisocial behaviour by occupiers or visitors.
Why was Birmingham Selective Licensing put in place and when does it start?
In Birmingham, the local authority (Birmingham City Council) was keen to stress it will be working with partners including the police in a joined up way to tackle “the high levels of crime that have blighted these wards for too long”.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Sharon Thompson said:
“We want to ensure that private properties in our poorest wards are providing fit and proper accommodation and that landlords are adhering to their legal responsibilities. While many already do, the introduction of licence conditions that cover a range issues including waste bins, references and tackling anti-social behaviour will ensure the council is in a position to engage and regulate this sector appropriately.
The Selective Licensing Scheme will allow BCC to work with all landlords to drive up standards across all private rented sector properties and join up with other services such as the police to tackle issues such as the high levels of crime that have blighted these wards for too long. Improving standards in the longer term will lead to safer and more stable communities, enabling more tenants to fulfil their potential especially children”
When does Birmingham Selective Licensing start?
The Birmingham Selective Licensing Scheme starts on 1 April 2023. It was announced on 16 March 2022 and received approval from the Secretary of State on 20th September 2022. The scheme will be implemented in areas of the City of Birmingham where the council believes it is necessary to intervene in the private rental market to help reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in particular.
Which areas will come under Birmingham Selective Licensing?
The wards where selective licensing will apply in Birmingham are:
- Acocks Green
- Alum Rock
- Balsall Heath
- Bordesley Green
- Bordesley and Highgate
- Bournbrook and Selly Park
- Gravelly Hill
- North Edgbaston
- Small Heath
- Soho and Jewellery Quarter
- South Yardley
- Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath
- Stockland Green
- Tyseley and Hay Mills
- Ward End
- Yardley West and Stechford
What does Birmingham’s Selective Licensing mean for me as a landlord?
In practical terms, a licence holding landlord in the affected area will be required to demonstrate they have all the necessary paperwork in place for each tenancy, such as gas safety certificates, EPCs, and adequate tenancy agreements along with mandatory references for all tenants. Smoke alarms must also be fitted and landlords will be responsible for ensuring electrical appliances and furniture is in a safe condition.
As a firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, LandlordSolicitors.com is able to provide professional legally-qualified advice, supported by services to help landlords ensure they are fully compliant with Birmingham’s selective landlord licensing zone, which will come into effect from 5 June 2023 and cost landlords £700 per licence for up to 5 years. Get in touch to see how we can help.