Letting agents urged to help landlords navigate new licensing rules

Letting agencies are being encouraged to do more to help buy-to-let landlords cope with a rise in licensing activity from local authorities in recent months.

Neil Cobbold

PayProp, the rental payment provider, acknowledges that updates and guidance relating to landlord licensing schemes are becoming an increasingly time-consuming part of a letting agency’s management service, but adds that they also present an opportunity to increase their value proposition.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, local authorities went ahead with a range of consultations and applications for new licensing schemes during 2020. Research released in early December by data platform Kamma found that 44 licensing consultations were in progress at the time.

The study also forecast that HMRC could collect £400m in licensing fees and fines from landlords this year, as well as an additional £2m in related unpaid taxes.

Since Kamma’s report, there have been numerous extra licensing developments affecting letting agencies and landlords.

Westminster, the borough with the largest share of the UK’s private rented sector, has launched a consultation on additional licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Also in London, Havering Council has pledged to continue with its latest licensing scheme rollout, despite the challenges of the pandemic, while Lambeth Council has launched a consultation to double the size of its existing licensing operation.

Areas outside of London are also affected. A consultation for additional licensing in Newcastle closed at the end of January, while a consultation to license an additional 1,500 homes in Manchester has been launched.

Towards the end of 2020, Liverpool City Council lodged an application to license 45,500 properties after its initial plan to license all 55,000 rental properties in the city was turned down by the government.

There have also been landlord licensing developments in Oxford, Doncaster, Gedling and Southend-on-Sea in recent weeks.

Trade body ARLA Propertymark has described this flurry of licensing activity as “socially irresponsible”, arguing that landlords will struggle to comply with new rules during an ongoing pandemic – and that local authorities will find it challenging to enforce them.

Letting agents will now have the added responsibility of helping landlords navigate new local rules.

Neil Cobbold, chief sales officer at PayProp, commented: “In the circumstances, agencies are in a trusted position to help guide landlords through their licensing journey – giving them another opportunity to demonstrate their value in a competitive market.

“Landlords will be looking for agents’ help when it comes to responding to consultations, completing applications and meeting deadlines so they can avoid significant financial penalties for non-compliance.”


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  1. Woodentop

    I haven’t found a single licensing requirement that a responsible landlord shouldn’t already be complying with.  
    Objection seems to come from not liking to be told they haven’t got their act together, even when they have! The additional bureaucracy and added costs is something that is not going away in England and other home nations have already mandatory licensing and requirements. Landlords have accepted and got on with it.  
    Some Landlords have for many years half hearted checked on what they should be doing and its now catching up with them and for the amateur, regulations is too complex for them and some probably wouldn’t cope. Nor will some agents!!!!  
    Landlords will (begrudgingly) pay a solicitor for legal advice but pay agents for the service…….? A good managing agent should have the landlord covered.

  2. paulgbar666

    LA are no more qualified than LL to know what is going on.

    It is only if LL don’t bother keeping up to date which is something LA are equally guilty of that will cause problems.

    The PRS is a dynamic industry.

    Things are continually changing.

    If industry stakeholders don’t bother to keep themselves up to date then eventually they will be caught out.

    That would be their fault.

    The information is out there so there is no excuse not to know about relevant stuff.


    Only by monitoring comments and articles do I manage to keep knowledgeable and up to date.

    Without the invaluable posts and comments etc by mainly LL I would be largely ignorant of the latest regulations


    There is really no excuse for any LL to be ignorant.

    Only the lazy will be caught out.

    It must be accepted by LL that they have to keep themselves informed on industry developments.


    Far too many LL operate still as they did 20 years ago.

    This is clearly an irresponsible not to say stupid way to operate.

    LL cannot afford to be ignorant as there are many parties waiting for them to foul up.

    Ignorance can cost LL dearly!!

    It is why I believe there should be COMPULSORY CPD training every 5 years and then a Licence to operate to be granted subject to their properties being legally compliant.

    There millions of fraudulent tenancies which a decent licencing system would detect.

    A National LL and property licencing system makes far more sense than all the other disparate licencing schemes.

    Each property and LL to have a licence costing no more than £100 every 5 years with the 5 year CPD training required to operate as an independent LL.

    If LL can’t be bothered then they would be required to have a LA carry out all management.

    But of course this means LA will require formal qualifications as they are no better than LL currently



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