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Clampdown plan for rogue landlords meets stiff opposition

Paul Cunningham, chairman of the Great Yarmouth branch of the ELA and who is opposed to the scheme  PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Paul Cunningham, chairman of the Great Yarmouth branch of the ELA and who is opposed to the scheme PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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Plans to introduce a clampdown on rogue and unethical landlords in Great Yarmouth have met stiff opposition from a landlord association.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council wants to set up a five year selective licensing scheme in the Nelson Ward to improve housing and social conditions for private sector tenants, while discouraging unethical landlords who exploit vulnerable people and have an unfair advantage over ethical landlords in the housing market.

However the plans, which have gone out to consultation and involve inspections, have been opposed by the Eastern Landlords Association, which has raised a wide range of objections to the scheme

Among the objections are extra costs being burdened by lawful and responsible landlords while what it calls ‘criminal operators’ will flout the rules.

The association says costs maybe passed onto tenants, landlords may seek to evict ‘challenging tenants’, tenants can refuse inspectors leading to punishments for landlords and there is little evidence that other licensing schemes improve housing.

The association’s response to the consultation also says a licensing area could have other outside detrimental impacts.

It says: “Defining areas of Great Yarmouth problem zones in the consultation will not encourage lending or investment into these areas. The stigmatisation will be reflected in property values within them.”

The association also says the council has sufficient powers to deal with the issue of rogue landlords, such as criminal behaviour orders and interim management orders.

It also says many of the problems are caused by mental health and drink issues and landlords need additional resources from the council to help tackle them.

However the association report adds: “We are willing to work in partnership with the council to develop tenant information packs, assured shorthold tenancies and accreditation of landlords, along with targeting the worst properties in a given area.”

Paul Cunningham, chairman of the Great Yarmouth branch of the association, said it would lead to the stigmatisation of the Nelson Ward and claimed it was a money making exercise for the council.

The licensing plan is set to be debated at a full council meeting in September.

The scheme, which the council says would only involve a relatively modest fee, is supported by the National Landlords Association.

COUNCIL RESPONSE

Andy Grant, chairman of the council’s housing and neighbourhoods committee, said: “Selective licensing schemes elsewhere have proved successful, providing the additional resources to improve living conditions in challenged neighbourhoods with a high proportion of private sector housing.

“We would continue to work with partners to deliver the project, carrying out inspections to identify and work with sub-standard landlords and to enforce compliance, with financial penalties for those who break conditions.

“The scheme would link to the Neighbourhoods that Work Project to help vulnerable and disadvantaged tenants.

“There is no evidence ensuring good housing standards and property management through licensing would result in additional evictions – the scheme would empower vulnerable tenants who feel they can’t report concerns for fear of eviction.

“With issues related to the anti-social behaviour of tenants, we would work in partnership with Norfolk Constabulary, landlords and other partners.

“It would help to create a level playing field for ethical landlords and has the potential to increase rental income and property values.”

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