Streamlining the licence application process can save time and reduce costs

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 - By Martin Bradbury, Account Director, Rocktime Digital Agency

Martin Bradbury, Account Director, Rocktime Digital Agency

Keeping up to speed on all the new landlord licensing schemes has become an increasingly complex task for landlords and letting agents. Yet discovering your property needs to be licensed is the first of many hurdles you will need to overcome.

The process of applying for a licence can vary considerably and is not always straightforward. In some areas, you must phone the council during office hours, ask for an application form and wait for it to arrive by post. The form is then completed by hand and if you want to take a copy prior to submission, you may need a trip to the local library to use the photocopier. Then of course there’s the risk of paperwork getting lost in the post. It can be a long, slow and arduous process.

Alternatively, some councils provide an application form that you can download and complete at home before emailing it back to the council. It is slightly more convenient, but still not ideal and it can involve printing lots of paperwork.

We thought that surely we can come up with a better solution. We checked research from London Property Licensing that showed almost 50% of London Boroughs did not offer an integrated online application process. That figure is even lower in other parts of the country.

In 2016, we think local authorities should be embracing the digital age and looking to new online solutions that are designed for simplicity and ease of use – a system available 24/7 and integrated with their payment system to provide a seamless application process.

However technology can sometimes work against us, especially when it’s not implemented correctly. Some of the early online systems did not have a good reputation – they were clunky, difficult to navigate and had a tendency to time out, deleting all the information and taking the landlord back to square one. The other significant factor was cost. Suffice to say, some of the systems on the market do not offer good value for money. With IT set up and maintenance costs being passed on in the form of higher application fees or through council tax bills, providing value for money is essential.

So where does Rocktime come in to it? Well, we invested considerable time and energy to develop a user-friendly and competitively priced online application package that all councils can use. It’s neither clunky or difficult to navigate! In fact, our system caters for mandatory HMO, additional and selective licence applications and provides flexibility to save partly completed applications and return to them at a later date. Supporting documentation can be uploaded and it can be integrated with the council’s payment system. We have sought to make the application process as simple and stress-free as possible for the licensee, whilst reducing back office administration and enabling applications to be processed more efficiently by council officers. Helping to keep the cost per licence to a minimum.

Our background as developers of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme and Rent Smart Wales websites has certainly helped us to fine-tune the design and functionality.

We are now delivering licensing solutions for a number of councils across the country. The latest development for Ealing Council’s new additional and selective licensing schemes went live on 1 October 2016. Anyone who applies before 31 December 2016 will receive a 25% discount and you can see the system for yourself on the Council’s website

For more information about Rocktime’s property licensing software or to arrange a demonstration contact Martin Bradbury, Account Director – Public Sector Partnering, Rocktime Digital Agency on Email Martin.B@rocktime.co.uk or Tel 01202 678777.