Selective Licensing In Stoke-On-Trent Given The Green Light

The Purge on private landlords continues, i find it utterly disgusting that good private landlords will be penalised along with good respectful tenants whose rents will ultimately rise due to more landlord costs. What are they thinking off, first the government abolishes mortgage interest relief, now selective licensing along with the tenant fee ban. Profits are been squeezed out of the game.

Council presses ahead with controversial scheme to tackle poor housing in these 151 Stoke-on-Trent streets (and here’s where they are)

Stoke-On-Trent City Council is rolling out the selective licensing system to 14 new areas in a bid to drive up housing standards, following previous schemes in Tunstall, Fenton and Hanley. Under selective licensing, private landlords in each designated area would have to pay £500 for a five-year licence for each of their properties, which would need to meet certain health and safety standards. Renting out a property without a licence would be a criminal offence.

The council says the previous schemes have resulted in more than 1,400 hazards being eradicated in hundreds of properties. But landlords have voiced their opposition to the proposals over two rounds of consultation. They claim selective licensing only penalises good landlords, while doing little to address the real issues affecting the private rented sector. They also suggest the roll-out could cost the council more than £500,000, based on the £65,895 loss sustained on the smaller Tunstall scheme. Cabinet members are due to rubber stamp the plans on December 11, although the decision will have to be confirmed by Housing Secretary James Brokenshire.

The selective licensing proposals cover 154 streets in Hanley, Shelton, Longport, Stoke, Burslem, Cobridge, Middleport and Northwood. A survey of 600 properties was undertaken in five ‘focus areas’, which had higher levels of homes in disrepair than then the private rented sector as a whole, with 417 of these being included in the selective licensing areas. While only some streets were surveyed, the cabinet report says this gave a ‘robust indication’ of the state of housing across all 14 areas.

The previous scheme in Tunstall resulted in 912 hazards being eliminated, with the works costing landlords around £155,000. In Fenton and Hanley, landlords invested £184,000 to eradicate 529 serious hazards. The report states: “It can be seen that the requirements under the selective licensing designations have resulted in a significant number of inspections and improvement in housing conditions. It is not expected that these numbers could be achieved through voluntary compliance.”

But critics point out that many properties in the area remained unlicensed during the scheme, meaning ‘rogue landlords’ went unpunished.

David Lovegrove, a landlord from Telford who has been lobbying the council on behalf of Stoke-on-Trent landlords, said: “Two hundred homes weren’t licensed, but only three landlords were prosecuted, so what happened with the other 197? “What I would say is that it is much better to work in partnership with landlords. In Telford the council has had a good working relationship with landlords. The council tried selective licensing but they eventually abandoned it and set up Better Homes for All, which has been more effective.

“Some people have said that selective licensing is about making money, but the opposite is true. We’ve found out from a freedom of information request that the council lost around £200 for each property in Tunstall. In Nottingham the council has lost around £1 million, despite charging more for licences than Stoke-on-Trent.”