Councillors in Stockton-on-Tees are under pressure to rethink plans to introduce Selective Licensing of private rented housing in two areas of the town.
Back in November the council agreed to introduce the licensing in principle, with the usual justifications invoked by councils across the country - it would improve alleged anti-social behaviour problems, drive out rogue landlords and improve the quality of accommodation.
Failure to obtain a licence - priced at up to a whopping £945 per household for five years - could lead to a landlord being hit with a fine of up to £30,000.
“We want to introduce Selective Licensing because we want to take a robust stance to improve standards. We believe it will greatly help us improve the areas concerned and will bring lasting benefits for all - the landlords, residents and the wider local community” said a council spokesman at the time.
However, an agent is now putting pressure on the council to think again.
Mark Smith, manager of Robinsons agency in Stockton, is quoted on the Teesside Live website as saying: “There are some positives and some negatives - my concern would be there are more negatives.”
He says accidental landlords could be deterred from letting out, and prospective landlords could be put off purchasing in the affected areas.
“We are seeing landlords who’ve been doing it for 20 or 25 years who are now getting out and there are different reasons for that. Government tax relief is being phased out and we are seeing cash- rich landlords buying more properties” he says.
“If you’ve got a landlord who does not want to go out and pay agent fees or reference fees could that drive everything underground?”
A 10 week consultation period on the licensing regime begins at the end of July.