Tenants union Acorn is pushing for a selective licensing scheme in Brighton & Hove, three years after local landlord group iHowz managed to get the Housing Secretary to reject the city’s plans.

Its Landlord Licensing Now! campaign includes a tongue-in-check competition on social media to see whose rented property has the worst mould while it has also organised a rally in Brighton tomorrow (Saturday 19th June).

Activists say they are escalating efforts to collect evidence of poor housing after the city council reported that recent investigations in four wards – Queen’s Park, St. Peter’s and North Laine, Brunswick and Adelaide and Regency – revealed properties were, “overall found to be in a good condition”.

In 2018, iHowz successfully opposed the council’s plans which would have seen 27,000 rental properties covered by the scheme. Local landlords claimed it was unlawful, unnecessary and not justified by the evidence provided, and would almost certainly lead to rent increases for many private sector tenants in Brighton.

Landlord training

The council has promised to continue collecting evidence and working towards being able to apply for a licensing scheme. However, an iHowz spokesman tells LandlordZONE that together with the council, it implemented a landlord training and accreditation scheme which it believes already goes a long way to meet the charter called for by Acorn.

He adds: “Brighton & Hove, like most local authorities, have seen many budget cuts, but we wonder why Acorn have decided that landlords should be singled out to help top up the missing budget. It is an unfortunate fact that any council bringing in blanket licensing will have the unintended consequence that the cost of licencing will be reflected in rents.”

Acorn has been negotiating with the local authority for more than a year on the issue, and is also calling for an ethical landlords charter to be implemented. Branch secretary Ellen Musgrove (pictured) says its members often report serious issues with landlords that don’t get resolved.

She adds: “If the council can’t find the evidence they need they must be doing something wrong. We have tried to work with the Green administration to improve conditions for renters but the many delays make us question their commitment to standing up to bad landlords in this city.”

Councillor Martin Osborne, lead member for the private sector rented housing, says the desire is there but it is stymied by the thresholds the government has set. “While we do not yet have the evidence we need, we are continuing to collect evidence and work towards being able to apply for such a scheme,” he says.


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