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This briefing paper explains the history and operation of selective licensing schemes for private rented properties since local authorities in England and Wales acquired the power to introduce them in April 2006. The Government is currently conducting an independent review of selective licensing with a report due in spring 2019.

The aims of selective licensing

Sections 79, 80 and 81 of the Housing Act 2004 provided for the introduction of a scheme of selective licensing of private landlords in a local housing authority’s area. The provisions came into force in April 2006 and apply in England and Wales.

Selective licensing is intended to address the impact of poor quality private landlords and anti-social tenants. It was primarily developed with the need to tackle problems in areas of low housing demand in mind – although the Act also allows for selective licensing in some other circumstances.


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