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Calls Intensify to Abandon Licensing as Government Prepares to Launch Landlord Portal

The imminent launch of the government’s new property portal has sparked a debate about the necessity of selective licensing schemes, with Housing Secretary Michael Gove acknowledging the growing sentiment against them. During a discussion on the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities’ housing strategy, National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) chief executive Ben Beadle questioned the need for such schemes once the portal becomes operational.

Beadle put forward to Gove: “Like you, we also want to see bad landlords exited from the sector and for tenants and local authorities to easily identify the very many decent homes and decent landlords via the property portal and the decent homes standard forthcoming. But given the added reliance and pressures set out today on local authorities desperate for funding, if we have an effective property portal, why do we need selective licensing schemes as well?”

In response, Gove said, “That is a very fair point, Ben. Selective licensing has both provided reassurance in some areas but also frustration for those anxious to increase supply.”

The property portal, part of the Renters Reform Bill, aims to streamline the process for landlords to register their properties and demonstrate compliance. This initiative is expected to alleviate burdens on the courts and local authorities, enabling them to focus more on addressing serious cases.

The NRLA argues that many licensing schemes are justified by the need for local councils to gather information on the private rented sector (PRS) to enforce rules against rogue landlords. With the new portal granting local authorities access to such data, the NRLA is advocating for the government to eliminate licensing schemes once the portal is established.

This viewpoint was echoed earlier this year by Clive Betts MP, chair of the committee overseeing the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Speaking at the NRLA’s annual conference, Betts suggested that the implementation of the property portal could lead to fewer requests from local authorities for blanket licensing schemes.