Cllr Linda Woodings, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Planning and Heritage:
“Hopefully, the potential that our licensing scheme has, to help the process of transforming the private rented sector, where needed, is apparent,
“We’re particularly pleased about the support and funding we’ve received from the Government – which should help you to feel more supported by the Council.
“We know there are significant changes coming down the line, from energy efficiency requirements, through to what promises to be one of the most major reforms in housing law for years – the abolition of shorthold tenancies.
“Without the assistance of landlords, improvement of the sector in our city is only potential, and as always, when the Council tries to improve people’s lives for the better – and create safer housing – it’s a process, and it will take time.
“I’ve continued to meet regularly with senior officers from the Safer Housing team to monitor the delivery of draft and final licences, across all three of the schemes running in Nottingham, and to also look at crucial aspects such as fire safety and compliance. I also scrutinise the number of inspections and interventions and the ways that we are tracking down those property owners who are evading or don’t know about the licensing scheme.
“We’ve also increased the fees for selective licensing after a review of costs. I want to reiterate that the council can’t make any profit from this scheme, but it does have to wash its face financially over the 5 year period.
“Contrary to some reports in the media and on social media – the increase in fees DOES NOT APPLY to those of you who have already licensed their properties, and the new fee structure was announced in December, to come into effect in April – three months in advance – to incentivise individuals to come forward, license their properties and pay the original fees.
“Our website has had a much-needed reboot, assisted by members of the landlord community because we wanted it to work for both landlords and tenants.
“If you’ve not tried it out yet please do and let us know what you think. We approached the project knowing that we don’t have all the right answers about what works, so that’s why we had contributions from advice agencies, landlords, landlord organisations and our own staff.
“As with most websites, we can always amend it if needed, and so we’d appreciate your feedback – is it useful to you and your tenants?
“What else would you like to see on it? We can always add links to useful information and events. Let us know.
“In addition, the site now also has a confidential reporting facility as requested by you, so that, among other things, you can also let us know about any non-compliant landlords without bringing your profession into disrepute.
“We were also fortunate in our bid to the Government’s innovation fund and have managed to secure additional money to create resources that will assist landlords and tenants. Although the Government had badged this at its efforts to tackle rogue and criminal landlords, In Nottingham our bid was specifically aimed at helping, informing and educating both tenants and the non-professional cohort of landlords as to what minimum requirements we expect and what our inspectors will be checking.
“So there’s a new portal being developed to help landlords to access and target support for their more challenging tenants.
“This will be rolled out on the Housing Aid site and should be in place in April.
“It aims to
- improve tenant’s understanding of their responsibilities,
- improve relations between landlords and tenants, and
- prevent homelessness and all of its attendant costs for both household and landlord.
“We’ll also be working on some ‘how to’ videos for YouTube. One will shadow a qualified housing inspector conducting an inspection – viewers will get a good look at what gets considered at checks on properties – and it’ll also highlight the Homes Fit for Human Habitation legislation.
“The other will be a “tenants’ guide” which we’re hoping will help tenants learn to raise matters constructively with landlords when they believe that management of their home needs improving.
“We’ve also managed to include funding for some staff training, and landlord training, as well as some research by Trent University into the experience of care leavers at their tenancies
“The bid also saw us being awarded funds to set up the Marks Out of Tenancy app for Nottingham – as many of you will have seen in the news it’s an MHCLG endorsed trip advisor, but for the private rented housing sector.
“We’d encourage landlords to get their tenants to participate in submitting reviews because over time it’s hoped that it will promote a market where prospective tenants gravitate towards high performing landlords.
“And finally, we also plan to launch both our landlord and landlord agents’ meetings.
“Application forms will be put online in the next few weeks, and we’ll be sending out the link to this, and how to apply, in a special edition landlord newsletter in February.
“We’re pretty sure that interest in these will be over-subscribed but we’re aiming to make it as representative as possible so that we have a wide range of perspectives put forward.”