One month later than planned the Selective Licencing Scheme will be implemented in the north of the city, in an area notorious with poor tenants being forced on a dropped onto a unsuspecting neighbourhood, or tenants living in squalor as landlords do little to improve standards of the homes they rent.
“There are many privately rented properties which are not of a decent standard and we want to do more to ensure their quality is improved. This scheme offers support to private landlords and is designed to help improve communities.”
Landlords will have to apply for a licence from the counciland will have to meet the following requirements:
- Provide a gas safety certificate annually
- Keep electrical appliances andfurniture (supplied under the tenancy) in a safe condition
- Keep smoke alarms in proper workingorder
- Supply the occupier with a writtentenancy agreement; and demand references from persons wishing to occupy the house.
Landlords in the agreed areas will be liable for prosecution for not obtaining a licence or breaching its conditions.
Last month the decision to delay the approval of the scheme was put back after the Chairman of the North Staffordshire Landlord Association Paul Griffiths, who sent a 6 page response to the report to all Cabinet members the day before the Cabinet were due to meet. He raised a large number of points, but importantly raised recent case law with regards to a judicial review on another licensing scheme.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council had to delay whilst the legal team looked into the judicial review, which overturned that licensing scheme, and further strengthen all supporting information for the scheme.
People from the area saw this attempt as pure selfishness on the part of certain landlords who are only interested in the bottom line and feel they have no responsibility for the people they let to.
Goldenhill and Sandyford Councillor Martin Garner who was outraged at the attempt to scupper the new scheme. Martin said "This will address many problems in the area and lead to a significant improvement for residents."
Gwen Hassall - Cabinet member for Housing and Neighbourhoods spoke of house values in the area are were 61% down on average prices in the nearby area and that the low demand for housing and high levels of anti-social behaviour make the area perfect for selective licensing. Although Gwen might not have stated that the area did have two new property developments, the Bankeyfields Estate and the new estate built on the old Dudsons site.
She said: “We’ve got to raise the standard of the properties. We really do need to protect the people who live there. They’re
afraid to come out of their homes now as a result of anti-social behaviour.”
Deputy chair of the cabinet Paul Shotton spoke of seeing the scheme rolled out into other areas.
A very please Tunstall North's Resident Association Chair Dot Matthews had this to say
I phoned all our members as soon after Ruth phoned me last evening. Every one of us is delighted that at last this area can be brought back to a decent place to live again.
I have lived here in this street for 37 years, and have seen the recent decline, and believe that Selective Licensing is the only way forward.
EVERYONE will benefit.
Some of the landlords may not think it's a good idea at the moment, but I believe they will see an improvement within a year, and that decent people will want to live here again.
Ruth Kemp and Carmen Muir, and former Tunstall Councillor Megan Ryan are to be commended for their dedication to this project and for all their hard work. Thanks you three!
Ruth Kemp, Selective Licensing Co-ordinator, who has worked on implenting the scheme says
We have to now wait 3 months before the scheme is implemented, this gives landlords the opportunity to challenge the decision under a judicial review. The scheme will then be effective from 5 November 2011. I will be sending out leaflets to all landlords in the next few weeks to let them know what they need to do to get a licence, and to residents to let them know what's happening.
We are keen to ensure good landlords are supported.
Landlords have previously raised concerns that selective licensing is about punishing good landlords because they will be the ones who pay for a licence.
However we will prosecute those landlords who choose to not get a licence.
We'll be returning to this story over the course of time to see how SLS is benefitting people.