The UK’s landlord and property licensing schemes can be confusing, but a new technology platform could make things much easier for landlords.

ARLA Propertymark has teamed up with proptech firm GetRentr to launch a new service, which will be free for ARLA members, helping them to keep track of licensing requirements and housing regulation changes in their local area.

The licensing database will provide information on new licensing schemes coming into force in the month ahead, any schemes ending in the next month, and those being consulted on by local authorities that will come into effect in the near future.

It is expected to be a valuable resource for landlords and agents to stay abreast of any changes in their local area, to ensure that they comply and do not fall foul of the law – avoiding major penalties that can result from running unlicensed rental properties.

Licensing minefield

While in the UK, Liverpool is the only city to run a compulsory Landlord Licensing scheme, many areas across the country are subject to selective schemes where landlords letting out properties must hold a valid licence in order to operate.

Where an area is covered by the scheme, landlords must submit an application to obtain a licence, with fees payable of around £400 – depending on the area – and the local authority may request proof of safety certificates, existing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and tenancy agreements.

Recently, the government has agreed to review the rules on selective licensing schemes after pressure from the industry, including the Residential Landlord’s Association, which argues that selective licensing is not the optimum way of increasing standards in the industry, as legitimate professional landlords will be stumping up the cost of the licence while those operating illegally might continue to flout the rules and operate under the radar.

A breakthrough for proptech and landlords

According to David Cox, chief executive of ARLA, with so many new laws and licensing schemes being introduced, it can be very difficult for agents and landlords to keep up, and those who aren’t compliant could face banning orders or fines of up to £30,000.

“This new database, available to all members, will help agents mitigate these risks and comply with the ever-changing law,” he added.

Orla Shields, chief executive of GetRentr, also argued that the rapid increase in the number of schemes, to its current level of around 540 across the country, is an administrative burden for landlords and agents.

“Remaining compliant is a never-ending task as new consultations or schemes can come into effect at any time, meaning compliance today does not guarantee compliance tomorrow.”

“We’re really excited about our partnership with Propertymark as it will help protect agents from increasing fines, and ultimately help improve safety standards across the private rented sector,” said Shields.