Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Landlords in Manchester may see a change of heart from the city council after introducing their own alternative to selective licensing in April 2015 – “The Manchester Rental Pledge” – see below.

There are now signs that the worst housing arrears in Manchester could come under a selective licensing scheme because of what some councillors are arguing are nightmare housing conditions with anti-social behaviour and overcrowding.

The council has said it will test the licensing idea in the worst identified areas; Crumpsall, Moston, Old Moat and Rusholme; areas with the poorest private housing conditions and where landlords will have to pay an annual licensing fee if the scheme comes into operation.

The move follows vigorous lobbying by some councillors who have raised their concerns about what they call “slum landlords” who they claim are letting run-down properties and allowing anti-social behaviour by students and other tenants. It is also claimed that overcrowding in these properties is rife particularly in those areas with high levels of migration.

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Following a formal consultation in these four areas, and if there is enough support, the council aims to proceed with the scheme, in effect ordering landlords to pay for the right to rent out their properties.

Under new legislation recently passed it will then be possible to slap landlords with on-the-spot fines of £5,000 or take them to court, where they would face penalties of up to £20,000, for not complying with the scheme – letting a house or flat without a licence – or found to be breaching the terms of the one they have got. In extreme cases the council can take over management of the property and even place the landlord on a national blacklist.

Currently, in Manchester private landlords don’t need a licence unless their property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). Currently a property is an HMO (under review) if both of the following apply:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household*
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

The property is a licensable HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants

According to the Manchester Evening News (MEN) a similar scheme to that being proposed has been running in some areas of Salford for some time, where landlords have been paying between £425 and £625 license fees.

Manchester had previously tried out a similar scheme back in 2007, but abandoned it in 2011 after concluding that it was expensive to run, caused bad feeling among Manchester landlords and was largely  ineffective. In April 2015 the council launched its alternative scheme to licensing which it called the Manchester Rental Pledge, which at the time was reported to have got off to a good start.

However, the recent legislation changes aimed specifically at the “rogue landlord” problem have prompted the council to change tack.

In some of these problem areas the major issue cited is migration, which has included overcrowding and increased community tension. The M.E.N. has reported that shared houses around North Manchester General hospital in particular are causing concern due to huge numbers of Eastern Europeans sharing tiny rooms.

“We are currently exploring the benefits of a selective licensing scheme to improve housing in targeted areas. Proposals for the scheme will be subject to a full public consultation and I would urge local people to have their say,” said Councillor Bernard Priest, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council.

*For the purposes for the HMO regulations a household is defined as either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together – including people in same-sex relationships
  • relatives or half-relatives, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children.

Please Note: This Article is 3 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

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