Wednesday, April 10, 2019

News: Council progresses plans for expanding selective licensing

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Rotherham Council is progressing plans to extend its selective licensing scheme to Parkgate and Thurcroft to tackle the low housing demand and significant and persistent levels of antisocial behaviour related to the private rented sector.

Rothbiz reported last year that the authority was considering extending the powers which are already used in four areas where a licence fee for each property must be paid for by the landlord or agent and where each licence contains a set of conditions that the landlord must meet.

Over 2,000 Rotherham properties in Eastwood, Masbrough, Dinnington and Maltby are registered on the current scheme, around 90% of all licensable property, and the Council reports that it has seen "significant successes in improving housing conditions to make properties safer for our most deprived communities."

The issue is set to be discussed by the Council's cabinet next week and would involve over 400 privately rented properties in parts of Thurcroft and Parkgate.

If the proposals are agreed, all private landlords in these designated areas will be legally required to have a licence for any rented house they operate and to make sure that they meet their obligations to provide appropriate housing. Amongst these are obligations relating to the safety and security of the property, taking steps to deal with anti-social behaviour, and maintaining the appearance of the property.

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Landlords would also be supported in ensuring their tenants meet their responsibilities to their properties and neighbourhood. Selective Licensing gives the Council greater powers to intervene where problems arise.

70% of respondents to the Council's consultation in Parkgate and 64% in Thurcroft were in favour of a mandatory selective licensing scheme in each of the respective areas.

Cllr. Dominic Beck, Cabinet Member for Housing at Rotherham Council, said: "There is a high reliance on the private sector for housing in both Thurcroft and Parkgate, communities which face particular issues in terms of unemployment, poor health, and higher levels of crime than the average. We know that by improving housing conditions, we can have a direct impact on the quality of life for both tenants and others in the community, so I was pleased to see such strong support from local residents for the proposal.

"The first stage of our selective licensing scheme showed how by working with landlords we can have a big impact on housing conditions, but also be in a position to take enforcement action on those landlords who let their tenants down when we have to."

The costs to implement the scheme are set to be covered by the income received. A revised fee of £521 is proposed for a five year single occupied house Selective Licence, but with a reduction to £394 for high performing landlords.

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