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Council ditches licensing plans but still seeking alternatives

A new task group is being set up to explore how a council can tackle what it calls “problems with private rented accommodation in Wisbech” - but without resorting to the route of selective licensing.

It follows a decision not to press ahead with the selective licensing scheme that had been proposed for the area. 

"Some members have brought to the [ruling] cabinet's attention that they recognise the issues that Wisbech experiences in relation to the poor condition and management of private rented properties, especially houses of multiple occupation.  However, they are uncomfortable with the current selective licensing proposals” says a spokesman for Fenland council.

Under the old proposals buy to let investors would have been expected to fulfil the now-traditional licensing criteria - that is, buy five year licences for £575 (or more for owners of HMOs) and show they were ‘fit and proper’ persons to let property.

However, the Residential Landlords Association - which itself opposed the licensing - suggests that councillors have accepted arguments put forward by opponents warning the scheme would see “tenants nudged into nearby towns and villages, moving problems elsewhere” and would only serve to force “black market landlords deeper underground.”

The RLA now says: “The Conservative group – which has a large majority on Fenland Council – was unable to agree on the plans and, following several postponements, they have now been ditched altogether. The council has announced it will instead create a task force set up to explore alternative ways of tackling problems with private rented accommodation in Wisbech and improve enforcement.”

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