A new licensing scheme drawn up by Peterborough City Council which will improve standards of accommodation in the private rented sector and tackle rogue landlords has been given the go-ahead by the government.
The selective licensing scheme will be introduced in parts of the city where there are high levels of privately rented accommodation.
All private landlords with residential property in the designated areas now have until 1 December 2016, when the scheme is introduced, to apply for a licence for each of their properties. Failure to do so would result in enforcement action being taken which could lead to an unlimited fine.
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. Landlords are also required to provide appropriate tenancy agreements and acquire references from prospective tenants. These requirements are mandatory licence conditions.
The council will also require landlords to meet a host of other criteria which includes monitoring overcrowding,
Councillor Irene Walsh, cabinet member for communities and environment capital for Peterborough City Council, said: "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 who apply for their licences between 1 September 2016 and 30 November 2016 will be charged £50 for a licence per dwelling if they are accredited with a nationally recognised organisation such as 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.
Landlords without this accreditation will be charged £600 per property for a single let property or £750 for a house in multiple occupation. Landlords 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, said "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, management agents or tenants within the designated Selective Licensing areas are advised to find out whether their property will be affected by the new scheme.
Details will be announced in the coming weeks about how applications for licences can be made, further information is available from the Selective Licensing overview page.