Peterborough City Council has been given the green light by government for its new licensing scheme, drawn up by the City Council, which it claims will improve standards of accommodation in the private rented sector and tackle rogue landlords.
The selective licensing scheme will be introduced in those parts of the city where there are high levels of privately rented accommodation.
Private landlords with residential property in the designated areas now have until 1st December 2016, when the scheme will start, to apply for a licence for each of their properties. If landlords fail to comply it would result in enforcement action being taken by the Council, and this could ultimately lead to an unlimited fine.
To obtain a licence, landlords will have to meet certain criteria; mandatory minimum operating standards which include ensuring the property has a gas safety certificate, working smoke alarms and safe electrical appliances and furniture. Landlords are also required to provide appropriate tenancy agreements and will need to seek references from prospective tenants.
Other requirements which the Councils say it well enforce on landlords include the monitoring of overcrowding, resolving anti-social behaviour problems and legally removing tenants where there is evidence of criminal activity or anti-social behaviour. Landlords will be asked to ensure that properties are in good condition and free from waste at the start of every tenancy. Landlords will be told to remind tenants of their responsibilities for the storage and disposal of household waste.
Councillor Irene Walsh, cabinet member for communities and environment capital for Peterborough City Council, told the Peterborough Telegraph:
“I would like to pay tribute to the team at the council that has worked incredibly hard to achieve a scheme that now has the approval of the secretary of state and should lead to a marked improvement in the standard of privately rented accommodation across the city.
“Many landlords provide decent, well-managed and well-maintained accommodation, which does not cause any problems for the local community. There are, however, also properties that are poorly managed, suffer from overcrowding, or provide unsafe accommodation. These properties have a negative impact on the tenants, their neighbours and whole communities.
“The introduction of selective licensing will allow us to have a more active role in ensuring all private tenants are able to live in housing that is safe, of high standard, appropriately managed and offers appropriate tenancy protection. It will also improve the quality of life for everyone in an area by ensuring a consistently high standard of privately rented accommodation.”
Landlords applying for their licences between 1st September 2016 and 30th November 2016 will be charged £50 for a licence per dwelling, if they are accredited with a nationally recognised organisation. For example, the National Landlords’ Association or Residential Landlords’ Association, or if the property is managed through an agent registered with the Association of Residential Letting Agents are acceptable.
Landlords without some sort of accreditation will be charged £600 per property for a single let property or £750 for a house in multiple occupation (HMO). Landlords in designated areas who fail to register their property by 1 December 2016 will be charged £900.
Licence holders found to be in breach of the licence conditions could face prosecution, and upon conviction in a magistrates’ court, a fine of up to £5,000. In such circumstances, the council would then consider whether it was appropriate to revoke the licence and take over the management of the property.
Adrian Chapman, service director with responsibility for adult services and communities for Peterborough City Council, told the Peterborough Telegraph:
“The new scheme will compel landlords to maintain good standards, therefore improving the standard of living for many residents.
“However the scheme will also benefit many of our landlords as it will support them to deal with problem tenants and tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour.”
All landlords, agents or tenants with property interests within the designated areas are being advised by the Council to seek more information by visiting www.peterborough.gov.uk/selectivelicensing or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Section 80 of the Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to apply for selective licensing of privately rented properties in areas which are experiencing low housing demand and/or suffering from anti-social behaviour. The main provisions in respect of selective licensing came into force in April 2006. The same Act also introduced a new licensing regime for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Download information here