Landlord licensing schemes intended to raise standards in the rental sector “do not work” according to the RLA.
The Residential Landlords Association claims the schemes have created a “postcode lottery”, as some local authorities are charging landlords 21 times as much as other councils for licences.
Research by Direct Line for Business found that the cost of a new licence ranges from just £55 to £1,150.
Across the UK the average cost of a landlord licence was £591, but not all local authorities operate the schemes.
In 2017 the average amount of revenue raised by individual councils through their licensing schemes was £144,629.
The average number of licensing offences reported by each local authority with a scheme was 5,069 in 2017, a jump of 46 per cent on the previous year.
Breaching the licensing rules is a criminal offence and landlords can be prosecuted or hit with a civil penalty of up to £30,000.
However, the average fine for licensing offences in 2017 was just £926.
Landlord groups have claimed that the scheme is not working to protect tenants or guarantee the quality of rental homes in an area.
The Residential Landlords Association says the scheme “does not work” and pushes up costs for good landlords while criminals carry on “under the radar”.
It argues that price increases for landlords mean that ultimately the cost for tenants will rise too.
RLA policy director David Smith says: “Whatever the cost of licensing, it fails to provide any assurance about the quality of accommodation.
“The RLA’s own analysis shows that there is no clear link between a council having a licensing scheme in place and levels of enforcement against criminal landlords.”
He adds: “The fundamental problem with all schemes is that it is only the good landlords who come forward to be licensed.
“They completely fail to identify the crooks. They just mean landlords, and therefore tenants, having to pay more.
“Instead, councils need to be more creative in how they identify landlords by better using the powers they have to collect data using council tax returns and accessing information from deposit schemes.”