New report questions fairness of property licensing schemes

Analysis by Kate Faulkner claims uneven enforcement and questionable results of selective and HMO licensing means schemes should be discussed properly.

kate faulkner yuno

A new report has criticised the role of council-run property licensing schemes, which can cost both agents and landlords thousands to comply with.

Rental sector compliance platform Yuno, which is used by leading agencies including Savills, says it has been working with industry figure Kate Faulkner OBE to look into the effectiveness of the controversial schemes.

Selective licencing in particular is heralded by councils and campaign groups as the only way to enforce higher standards in the private rented sector, but criticised by landlords and agents for charging good operators big fees of approximately £1,000 but not punishing bad ones.


Yuno says its research shows 25% of local authorities in England, and 36% of local authorities in Wales, are enforcing Additional HMO and/or Selective Licensing schemes.

In the new report, Yuno’s analysis poses questions about the cost-effectiveness and justifications for the huge fees charged while acknowledging the significant improvements in the ‘quality of privately-rented homes in England and Wales in recent times’.

The research comes at a difficult time for the Government, whose proposals for a national landlord portal in the Renters (Reform) Bill will, it has been argued, make selective licencing schemes in particular redundant.


Paul Conway, CEO and Founder of Yuno (pictured) says: “[These] schemes are far from evenly distributed across regions, prompting the question as to why some regions have a significantly higher proportion of councils enforcing them.

“Our analysis shows a lack of such schemes in regions with a relatively higher proportion of non-decent homes, and a higher proportion of such schemes in regions with some of the lowest proportions of non-decent homes.

“This begs the question as to the role of licensing in causing housing standards to improve. For example, is the relatively high housing standards in London due to a higher proportion of discretionary licensing schemes or because it has a substantial premium homes market?”

The research also reveals discrepancies in licensing fees among London councils, with some councils charging up to 200% more for identical licenses.

“In fact, some councils charge more for Selective or Additional HMO Licenses than others do even for Mandatory HMO Licenses. This lack of uniformity poses questions as to cost-effectiveness and justifications for wide-ranging fees,” says Conway.

Backed by Faulkner, Yuno will be holding a roundtable to determine the effectiveness of the expensive schemes in raising the housing standards.

To join the roundtable, or input, apply here. More information and key facts from the report so far here. 


  1. The real measure of effectiveness is whether licensing schemes help the sector altogether, not only from a safety or a fairness perspective.
    From experience, they work only when properly understood, adequately managed, and fully supported by third parties like mortgage providers.
    In my recent article below I point them as one major cause of the letting crisis, and I shed light on what is needed to move forward.

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