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Housing Act Guide

What Selective Licensing Is About

How Selective Licensing operates

Where selective licensing applies, unlike the other forms of licensing which relate to HMOs, then normally all houses within the private rented sector for that area must be licensed, except where they require to be licensed as HMOs. Non licensable HMOs must be licensed under Selective Licensing.  “House” means a building or part of a building consisting of one or more dwellings.  For those purposes “dwelling” means a building or part of a building occupied or intended to be occupied as a separate dwelling

Designation for Selective Licensing

Selective licensing is dependent on a designation by the local authority.

A local authority may designate the whole of their district or part of their district, subject to selective licensing.

An area may be designated for selective licensing either (i) if the area is (or is likely to be) an area of low housing demand or (ii) the area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour and some or all of the private sector landlords are failing to take action to combat the problem that it will be appropriate for them to take.  A designation can last for five years.  It can be renewed. 

There are prescribed publicity requirements for designations and the revocation of designations.

Properties to which Selective Licensing applies

Selective licenses are required for houses within the designated area where the whole of the house is occupied either under a single tenancy or licence or under two or more tenancies or licences in respect of different dwellings contained in it. 

Are there any exemptions?

A tenancy or licence is exempt from the selective licensing if it is granted by a registered social landlord.

The following tenancies/licences are also exempt where:

  1. a prohibition order is in force
  2. business tenancies
  3. licensed premises (for liquor licensing purposes)
  4. agricultural tenancies
  5. the property is managed/controlled by a local housing authority or public body
  6. the building is regulated under other legislation (e.g. care  homes)
  7. the building is occupied by students controlled/managed by a University/College (who subscribe to an Approved Code of Practice)
  8. the occupier is a Member Of The Family of the landlord/licensor who himself holds under a lease of the property for a minimum of 21 years
  9. holiday lets
  10. the occupier shares any amenity (i.e. a toilet bathroom kitchen or living room) with the landlord/licensor or a Member Of The Family of the landlord/licensor

The above do not require selective licensing.

Are there any temporary exemptions?

Yes – if you are taking steps to change the situation so that the property will no longer need to be licensed.  See Temporary Exemption Notices.

Differences between Selective Licensing and HMO Licensing

Generally, the same rules apply when granting a Selective Licence as with an HMO licence.  The main differences are:-

  1. It is mandatory to take up references for a prospective tenant before letting a property subject to Selective Licensing.
  2. Unlike HMOs the licence authority does not have to consider suitability for letting or amenity standards when granting a selective licence.  However, the licence holder must still be a fit and proper person.

Where does selective licensing apply?

Areas Subject To Selective Licensing will tell you where in the Country selective licensing applies.

This document was last updated on: 17/05/2007

General Disclaimer

IMPORTANT: Our website (including the Unique Property Selector) can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.

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