Cardiff Metropolitan University
HDawsonFinalPhDThesisForBinding1.pdf (3.95 MB)

The role of Housing Act 2004 licensing in addressing the needs and issues of stakeholders in the private rental housing sector of England and Wales

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posted on 2022-10-13, 12:31 authored by Henry Dawson

This two-stage study investigated how Housing Act 2004 property licensing schemes could address the needs and issues of stakeholders in the private rental sector, clarifying the role of licensing in the governance of the sector.

Stage one used focus groups and interviews to establish the needs and issues within the sector. Thematic analysis presented a complex, dynamic environment dominated by small-scale investors. Increasing complexity of legislation and the negative media portrayal of landlords has impacted investor morale. Higher demand for accommodation and limited funding for regulators and tenant support services has led to a perceived lack of accountability for landlords and created an adverse environment for low income and minority group tenants. Property management varied considerably due to the range of operators in the sector rather than any minority ‘rogue element,’ challenging the binary depiction of landlords/agents as ‘good’ or ‘bad/rogue.’

Stage two used an adapted version of the 2010 Building Research Establishment survey questionnaire sent to English and Welsh councils, to assess licensing activity. This was supplemented by text analysis of the local authority licence conditions, to determine minimum requirements placed on licensed properties. Findings from this stage showed improvements in the levels of property maintenance, anti-social behaviour, waste handling and the management practices of landlords, predominantly through the use of informal enforcement approaches. Councils showed considerable variation in the minimum amenity levels and management standards required in licence conditions. Licensing resulted in greater partnership working, provision of support services and a raised profile for the regulator. These all contributed towards local area improvements, but changes could take longer than the five years of a single property licence to be fully realised.

Licensing performs an important role in raising standards and protecting the public’s health, using a regulatory approach that was completely self-financing in half of the responding councils. Licensing has contributed successfully towards most of the government’s aims for the legislation. A number of obstacles to licensing have been considered, along with potential solutions. Finally the role of local authority licensing alongside national registration/licensing and a potential self-regulation scheme are considered in the concluding chapter of this thesis.  



  • School of Sport and Health Sciences

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD

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