More than 50 councils in England now operate licensing schemes for buy-to-let landlords, but do you need a permit to let a property in your area?
Landlord licensing has been a hot topic over the last couple of years, with a growing number of local authorities demanding landlords sign up to codes of conduct and the government launching a review into how effective licences really are.
Here, we explain which councils are operating schemes, and offer advice on whether new launches can go ahead during the coronavirus crisis.
Landlord licences fall into three categories, as follows:
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has shared new data with Which? showing the councils in England that operate selective or additional licensing schemes.
The NRLA submitted freedom of information requests to councils across England between November 2019 and February 2020.
It received more than 200 responses, with 55 councils confirming they're operating additional or selective schemes, or are in the process of launching one.
Hover over an area on the interactive map below to find out whether it operates additional licensing, selective licensing, or both.
London is by far the most common place for landlord licensing, with 22 boroughs operating a scheme, as shown below.
It concluded schemes were effective 'when implemented properly', and said a 'national registration scheme' for landlords should be considered to supplement selective licensing.
Landlord licensing schemes have suffered their fair share of bad press in the past couple of years.
And last October, research by Safe Agent and London Property Licensing claimed as many as 130,000 rented properties in London weren't currently compliant with licensing rules.
Will licences be enforced during the coronavirus crisis?
It says that councils should 'adopt a pragmatic approach' on licensing enforcement and consider pausing the introduction of any non-mandatory licensing schemes to free up resources for more pressing concerns.
The NRLA told Which? it has written to Coventry Council over its plans to bring in a licensing scheme on 4 May, which it describes as 'irresponsible'.
It says: 'When a licensing scheme is introduced, landlords have to go into properties to check they meet the licensing obligation and may need to carry out non-essential works. This exposes them and the tenants to an enhanced risk of contagion.
'Several local authorities including Luton and Newcastle have done the right thing and paused the introduction of new licensing schemes.'
In response, Coventry Council said its scheme would continue to go ahead, but it would 'extend the date for compliance for a further six months' and landlords will only be asked for a first stage payment of £450.
Landlords who use agents to let and manage their properties need to pay £33.50 to register for a period of five years. Those who let and manage their own rentals also need a licence, which has a fee of £144 (if bought online, £186 for paper applications). This also lasts for five years.