Local Government


Although legislation regarding the private rented sector is made at national Government level, it is local Government which implements and enforces regulations.

Local authorities also have discretionary powers to introduce additional and selective licensing, planning restrictions such as Article 4 Directions and guidance on minimum room sizes above the nationally-set legal minimum.

Our work in this area includes:

Licensing and enforcement

Local authorities have responsibility for housing in their local areas. This includes oversight of the private rented sector and different local authorities take different approaches, depending on the nature of the PRS in their area, as well as political inclination.

The majority of landlords comply with the regulations in the sector but a small minority of criminal landlords ignore the law. It is up to the local authority to use their significant enforcement powers to root these criminals out of the sector. Our research however shows that this is often not the case.

Instead of using their powers to identify and tackle the small number of criminals, local authorities often prefer to penalise good landlords through blanket licensing schemes that have little to no effect. This serves to increase the costs for the majority of landlords who wish to provide good quality homes, while doing little to stop the criminal landlords who will continue to ignore their legal obligations.

Our policy

  • Local authorities to be held to account and provide evidence of the impact of licensing schemes
  • Proper use of discretionary licensing schemes to address specific problems, rather than poorly implemented borough-wide
  • Standardised enforcement policies so the law is applied consistently and fairly across the country
  • Better use of data to tackle criminal landlords
  • Properly resourced local authorities

Latest news

Your licensing update

Policy officer Samantha Watkin gives an update on all the local licensing news from your area. Local authorities are currently consulting on schemes in Bristol, Scarborough, Blackpool and Brighton and Hove.

Industry News Samantha Watkin 03/11/2023
Your licensing update

Birmingham City Council – an enforcement deep dive

As part of our ongoing work into the enforcement of housing standards and the value of local licensing schemes, we are launching a regular series investigating individual local authorities and how they regulate the private rented sector. This week we look at at Birmingham City Council.

Regional News Samantha Watkin 20/10/2023
Birmingham City Council – an enforcement deep dive

Deadline to respond to Lancaster licensing proposals extended

Landlords in Morecambe have longer to have their say on plans to introduce two licensing schemes in the town, after the Council extended a consultation.

Regional News Victoria Barker 17/08/2023
Deadline to respond to Lancaster licensing proposals extended

Blog: Engaging with Chorley landlords on adaptations in the private rented sector

We recently spoke with Chorley landlords about adaptations for older and disabled tenants. Tim Thomas gives explains more about what he learnt and the future of the NRLA’s campaign to improve access to the private rented sector.

Campaigns Tim Thomas 14/03/2022
Blog: Engaging with Chorley landlords on adaptations in the private rented sector

The enforcement lottery: local authority inspections and notices

The latest paper in the enforcement lottery series looks at the work local authorities do prior to commencing prosecution. The results of the paper are based on an FOI asking local authorities to provide the rates of HHSRS inspections, number of complaints received, and the number of formal notices served around property conditions.

Special Report James Wood 09/02/2022
The enforcement lottery: local authority inspections and notices

Related Documents


Local authorities are in charge of granting planning permission in the area. Many landlords make use of 'permitted development rights', which enable property owners to make some changes to properties without seeking planning permission. However, they also have the power to introduce Article 4 Directions which remove these. This has a particular impact on the conversion of single dwelling properties (class C3) to small HMO (class C4) with three to six occupants in two or more households.

Our policy

  • Article 4 Directions distort the market. Where they are introduced, as well as discouraging or preventing the conversion of properties to small HMO, they also mean that existing HMO are unlikely to be converted to family homes as they would lose their planning rights.
  • We believe landlords should retain permitted development rights and be able to convert between single household and small HMO (with up to six sharers) as determined by demand in the market.
  • Local authorities should use their appropriate enforcement powers, rather than planning permissions, to address quality, condition and environmental issues.

Related documents