The most controversial local council rental licensing scheme in the country has been deemed a success - at least by the Labour-controlled authority running it.
Last autumn Nottingham council extended existing licensing regimes to cover 90 per cent of the city’s private rental properties, adding up to some 32,000 homes: this made it the largest scheme by property volume outside of London.
Its introduction was controversial because thousands of applications by landlords were rejected because of what the council called “paperwork errors”; earlier this year, months after the scheme’s introduction, the council admitted some 17,000 properties remained unlicensed.
Licensing conditions include, amongst other things, landlords making sure they are trained in housing law.
But now the local authority has issued a ‘first birthday’ summary of how the scheme is going. It says it has received nearly 17,000 applications “and has worked with many of these landlords to help them improve their properties.”
However, this number suggests many thousands of properties remain unlicensed.
Since August 2018 the council has issued 22 civil penalty notices and five prosecutions, with nine of these relating to landlords failing to apply for a selective licence and four relating to landlord failing to licence under the mandatory or additional scheme.
The council says it’s met landlords at over 30 events over the last year and there are plans to launch a new Landlord Liaison Group; the council also says its website will in future include a tool to help tenants check if properties are licensed.
The council statement adds: “Officers have been out to visit unlicensed properties in the city and in some cases have uncovered imminent disrepair to properties and in particular noted a trend of smoke alarm system not working or being completed absent placing tenants at risk.”
Councillor Linda Woodings, responsible for housing, says: “Generally privately rented accommodation lags behind other types of housing in terms of property conditions. This licensing scheme continues to help us work towards providing quality housing for all.
“This schemed has already helped to improve rented properties across the city and it is important that landlords get the homes they own licensed and work with the council to help improve renting standards in the city and make lives better for tenants living in these homes.
“Our message is simple – we want to work with good landlords and remove bad, rogue and criminal landlords from the market. They may be undercutting and offering sub-standard accommodation which affects people living in the private rented sector. This is not just the council but we have heard the same message from landlords and letting agents too. We want to protect residents and continue to improve the housing offer in Nottingham.”