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New scheme will improve housing standards

15 December 2023

A new licensing scheme drawn up by Peterborough City Council which will improve standards of accommodation in the private rented sector has been given the go-ahead.

The selective licensing scheme will be introduced in parts of the city where there are high levels of privately rented accommodation. The previous selective licensing scheme operated in Peterborough between 2016 and 2021. While many of the same areas have been included in the new scheme, it is important for landlords to check whether their properties fall within the new areas for the scheme.

Peterborough City Council is directly partnering with Home Safe to administer the application process. Unlike the previous selective licensing scheme, landlords will need to apply directly to Home Safe, who will manage the application process on behalf of the Council.

Once the application portal goes live, private landlords with properties in the designated areas will be able to apply for a licence from 11 March 2024 when the scheme goes live for each of their properties. Failure to apply for a licence would result in enforcement action being taken which could lead to an unlimited fine, or a Civil Penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

To obtain a licence, landlords will have to meet certain standards and comply with conditions which include ensuring the property has a gas safety certificate, working smoke alarms and safe electrical appliances and furniture. These requirements are mandatory licence conditions.

The council will also require landlords to meet a host of other criteria which includes monitoring overcrowding, resolving anti-social behaviour and legally removing tenants where there is evidence of criminal activity or anti-social behaviour, ensuring properties are in good condition and free of waste at the start of each tenancy, as well as advising and reminding tenants of their responsibilities for the storage and disposal of household waste.

Councillor Peter Hiller, cabinet member Housing, Growth and Regeneration, said: “We are fully committed to working with landlords, the majority of whom provide decent, well-managed and well-maintained accommodation, to ensure that tenants are living in the best possible conditions.

“The introduction of selective licensing will help enhance the work we already do with landlords operating in the private rented sector. It will allow us to have a more active role in ensuring all private tenants can live in housing that is safe, of high standard, appropriately managed and offers appropriate tenancy protection.

“I would also like to thank our Housing Standards team within Regulatory Services that has worked incredibly hard to achieve a scheme that now has the approval of the secretary of state and will improve the quality of life for everyone in an area by ensuring a consistently high standard of privately rented accommodation.”

The cost of a licence will be £608 if an application is made in the first 30 days of the scheme going live, and £908 for the remainder of the 5-year life of the scheme. It will become an offence for a landlord to rent a property in a designated area without applying for a Selective Licence. Landlords with unlicensed rented properties, who those who fail to adhere to the conditions of the licence, can face a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine from the court. Landlords could also be ordered to repay up to 12 months' rent.

In such circumstances, the council would then consider whether it was appropriate to revoke the licence and take over the management of the property.

All landlords, management agents or tenants within the designated areas are advised to find out whether their property will be affected by the new scheme.

They can do so by visiting https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/residents/housing/selective-licensing/selective-licensing-overview Further details will be announced in the coming weeks about how applications for licences can be made.