Thousands of selective licensing applications for buy to let and shared homes have swamped a council admin team.

Despite assigning 76 staff to handle the applications for the licensing scheme that started on August 1, thousands of applications are awaiting processing or have been returned to correct paperwork errors.

Selective licensing in Nottingham is thought to be the largest scheme in the country outside London.

Around 32,000 private rented homes are covered, but the administration of the scheme seems in disarray.

The council says 13,450 applications have been received so far – with just 5,993 processed and 2,457 returned to landlords because of mistakes.

The licence costs £480 for accredited landlords or £780 for those without accreditation.

But the scheme says renting out a private home in the city is illegal without a licence, leaving thousands of landlords at risk of fines of up to £30,000 and other penalties.

“We have a 76-strong team specifically for administering and enforcing selective licencing, paid for through the fees, including everyone from admin support officers to environmental health officers, enforcement officers and senior managers,” said a council spokesman.

“We received approval for selective licensing from the government in April and had three months to launch the scheme. There was always going to be a bulge in applications at this stage of the process which will even out over time, when officers can then turn their attention more to enforcement.

“The city council introduced selective licensing in August to give private tenants better quality accommodation and greater protection from bad landlords.”

Meanwhile, the council is urging tenants to report bad landlords and poor living standards as part of a Safer Housing Campaign.

In a recent case, landlord Mohammed Azheem was ordered to pay £12,500 compensation and £9,000 legal costs for harassing a vulnerable tenant. Azheem must also complete 120 hours of unpaid community work.