Scheme to root out unethical landlords is approved

Homes in the Nelson ward Picture: Archant

Homes in the Nelson ward Picture: Archant

A selective landlord licensing scheme for a deprived Great Yarmouth ward that will root out unethical and rogue landlords has been approved.

A full meeting of Great Yarmouth Borough Council has agreed to introduce the five year scheme from January 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.

The council says improved property management standards will 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.

Councillors across the political spectrum supported the scheme, with Labour’s Michael Jeal, who represents the Nelson ward, saying there were “despicable” landlords in the Nelson ward.

He added: “We have to root these people out.”

Kerry Robinson Payne, who also represents the Nelson ward, said unethical and rogue landlords “exploited” tenants and that other landlords would find it a “good scheme”.

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Mike Smith-Clare, of Central and Northgate Ward, said that some properties were more akin to Victorian conditions.

Councillors did express concerns that landlords may pass on scheme costs to their tenants.

Graham Plant, council leader, said clamping down on poor living conditions was key to the scheme, saying: “It’s not the right way for people to live in our town.”

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 fail to apply for a licence.

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.

A consultation saw 94pc of landlords and letting agencies oppose the selective licensing scheme.

The plans had also been objected to by the Eastern Landlords Association, which asked the council to look at a self regulation scheme run in Southend instead as a way forward.