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Council introducing up to four licensing schemes after policy U-turn

Manchester council - which previously described selective licensing schemes in the private rental sector as ineffective - has done a U-turn and is in the process of introducing up to four schemes.

It has announced the definite creation of one such scheme and says up to three more are now under consideration.

Selective licensing, which requires landlords or managing agents to licence their properties if they let a home in a specific area, has this month been introduced in part of north Manchester known as Crumpsall, covering an area of around 400 private sector homes.

The council claims the scheme will seek to improve management standards and conditions of private rented housing and help reduce anti-social behaviour.

Agents and landlords have until mid-March to apply for a licence.

Now the council says three other pilot areas have also been identified – parts of Rusholme, Moston and Old Moat (Withington) – that will be subject to public consultation in the new year ahead of the likely introduction of the schemes later in 2017.

Industry bodies including the Residential Landlords Association successfully opposed previous attempts to introduce selective licensing regimes in Manchester but the council now says it aims to address previous shortcomings through different ways of implementing the scheme.

RLA chairman Alan Ward says: “Local authorities already have the powers to effectively monitor landlords through council tax documentation, with 96 per cent able to collect landlords’ data on these forms. What they need to concentrate on is taking enforcement action against the criminal landlords who, while in the minority, are out there. All this scheme will do is punish good landlords who will be forced to pay for costly licences while the criminals continue to operate below the radar – while raking in millions of pounds for the council.”

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