New license scheme to tackle rogue landlords

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A selective licensing scheme to tackle rogue landlords and unscrupulous tenants is set to be introduced in parts of Ashfield.

Ashfield District Council signalled it will crack down on poor housing conditions when it approved plans to introduce the scheme in Stanton Hill and Sutton Central.

Under a Selective Licensing scheme, rented properties in designated areas must have a licence in order to be let, with anyone failing to do so facing a fine and prosecution. This type of control will enable the regeneration of the areas that need it most and bring all landlords and their properties up to a good standard.

Councillor Keir Morrison, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “The vast majority of private landlords who rent out properties in the district operate within the law and look after their tenants, but there are some who fail to provide housing to a decent standard and don’t act on bad tenant behaviour to those they lease their properties to.

He added: “Any scheme would mean landlords and tenants have to act responsibly or face possible action from the council – ensuring landlords properly fulfil their responsibilities to provide housing at the correct standard and to deal with tenants who may be causing anti-social problems.”

The first two areas in Ashfield that will see its landlords requiring a licence are Stanton Hill and Sutton Central.

As part of the awarding of a licence landlords in these areas will have to pass a fit and proper test.

They will also need to bring their properties up to the correct standard for occupation. This scheme will help to make sure landlords are taking responsibility for the safety of their tenants by keeping their property up to the appropriate standard and reacting to anti-social behaviour.

It will also make sure that landlords who manage well (of which there are a number in the areas) are identifiable to those who want to rent.

The scheme ws approved at a Cabinet meeting at Ashfield District Council on Thursday evening.

The decision to designate an area of selective licensing must be confirmed at a meeting of the Council on the 6 October 2016 before the areas can be formally and publicly designated.

The charges for landlords to gain a licence in Ashfield will also be amongst the cheapest in the country at just £350 over the five years. The council will also offer a reduced rate of £250 to existing members of the East Midlands Landlords Accreditation Scheme.

John Buckley, Chief Fire Officer of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue, added: “Significant and persistent anti-social behaviour has long been associated with areas that have properties in a state of chronic disrepair.

“It is my view that the Selective Licensing scheme could improve the safety of homes and properties by addressing unsafe and irresponsible management practises conducted by a minority of landlords.”

The cabinet meeting heard that introduction of Selective Licensing in Margate in 2011 has resulted in the number of empty properties declining as well as a decrease in anti-social behaviour, with homes becoming safe and well-managed. As Margate plans a further designation, they anticipate an improvement in the area’s social, economic and housing conditions, as well as a further reduction in crime, deprivation and anti-social behaviour.