New licensing scheme proposed to improve private rented housing

Houses

A new licensing scheme for landlords is being proposed by Nottingham City Council to improve standards in the private rented housing sector.

The amount of privately rented housing in Nottingham increased by 12% between 2001 and 2011 according to Census data, 3% higher than the average for England, and indications are that it has increased significantly further still in the last five years.

However, the Council is concerned about poor standards in the city’s private rented sector having received over 4,500 complaints in the last four years about problems ranging from dangerous electrical wiring; cockroach infestations and lack of windows to smoke alarms not working and lack of safe escape.

Poorly managed and maintained properties in areas with a high proportion of private rented housing are also contributing to higher levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in those neighbourhoods, according to a report to the Council’s Executive Board on 22 November.

The report recommends approval in principle for a ‘Selective Licensing’ scheme which would require private landlords to obtain a license demonstrating that they and their properties met required standards. It is anticipated that the cost of the license would be £600 for five years with a proposed £140 discount for accredited landlords.

The majority of privately rented properties would be covered by the scheme. Revenue from the licenses could only be used by the Council to cover the cost of administering the scheme.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, said: “Alongside building new houses and taking tough enforcement action against rogue landlords, we believe introducing a new licensing scheme for landlords is one of the most important measures we can take to improve the quality of privately rented housing in the city, which is why we made it a key objective in the Council Plan published last year.

“People renting privately have a right to expect a decent standard of accommodation, particularly with rents forecast nationally to increase at a faster rate than house prices over the next few years.

“New research we have carried out shows that there are now over 43,000 privately rented properties in the city. Many are managed well but a significant proportion aren’t. The 4,500 complaints we have dealt with over the last four years are proof of that.

“As well as the tenants themselves, people living in the same neighbourhoods also suffer because of poorly managed properties and the crime and anti-social behaviour that results.

“By obtaining a license at a reasonable cost, landlords will be able to clearly demonstrate to prospective tenants that they meet required standards.

“So the introduction of a licensing scheme would not only bring benefits for tenants, local communities and Council Tax payers by reducing the cost of enforcement action necessary, it would also actually benefit landlords themselves.”

If the Selective Licensing scheme is approved in principle by the Executive Board, consultation will take place with tenants, residents, landlords and other interested parties from December 2016 to March 2017.

Depending on the outcome of the consultation and the required consideration by the Secretary of State, a scheme could be introduced by Spring 2018.

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