Rogue landlords to be identified in scheme
A selective landlord licensing scheme for a deprived Great Yarmouth ward could come into force from January if councillors approve the policy.
A full meeting of Great Yarmouth Borough Council will discuss introducing the five year scheme for the Nelson ward, which would involve inspections to find unethical and sub-standard landlords with the authority then working with them.
It would require landlords of most private rented housing to be licensed and meet conditions around health and safety and standards.
In a report to be discussed on Thursday night it is stated that the Nelson Ward meets the legal tests for a selective licensing designation, identifying that the area has long suffered from significant and persistent levels of sub-standard housing, deprivation, crime and anti-social behaviour related to the private rented housing sector.
As about 60pc of the accommodation there is in the private rented sector, the report concludes that improved property management standards should contribute to an overall improvement in living conditions and a better quality of life for residents, while making it harder for unethical landlords to prosper and creating a level playing-field for ethical landlords.
If the plans are agreed by full council the scheme would come into effect on January 7 and run for five years.
The council says it would 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 or simply fail to apply for a licence.
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It added regulation around compliant ethical landlords would be light-touch, with all landlords encouraged to join an associated landlord support service giving them access to a range of offers, services and discounts.
The full council meeting follows a 10-week public consultation this summer, which resulted in 95 responses, mostly from private sector landlords or letting agents. The report states the overall results show there is strong support for the plans from residents, businesses, workers and other respondents, with 89.3pc of these respondents strongly agreeing, agreeing, or not in objection. However, 93.9pc of the private sector landlord respondents objected.
The plans have also been objected to by the Eastern Landlords Association.
OBJECTION TO SCHEME
The Eastern Landlords Association has raised a wide range of objections to the scheme and says the authority should drop the scheme and follow the example of Southend.
Southend Borough Council had also planned to bring in a selective licensing scheme, but it dropped the plan with landlords instead forming the South East Alliance of Landlords, Agents & Residents (SEAL).
SEAL has 55 landlords and has entered into a formal partnership with its council and has its own code of conduct and complaints procedure in conjunction with council.
Paul Cunningham ,the chairman of the Great Yarmouth branch of the Eastern Landlords Association, said: “Our proposal is to have a similar scheme in Great Yarmouth but, unlike selective licensing, to encompass the entire borough so it is far more reaching than just the Nelson ward.
Landlords will in effect self regulate and if they fail to comply, will face the wrath of the council.
“The other advantages are that landlords will accept this scheme readily and will work alongside the council in order to improve the entire borough instead of resisting bureaucratic interference.
“As a Conservative-led council, self regulation should be an attractive proposition for them.
“All responsible landlords want to improve the area for obvious reasons and will assist the council in their fight against the rogue landlords.”
A statement from Great Yarmouth Borough Council said: “In coming to its proposal for selective licensing which is currently out for consultation, the Borough Council has reviewed other schemes that operate in the UK.
“Any suggestions or comments received as part of the current consultation process will be considered before a final decision is taken.”