Accusations of subsidising slum landlords with taxpayers’ money have been flatly denied by Peterborough City Council.
Cabinet member Councillor Irene Walsh has refuted comments made by MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson in his Peterborough Telegraph column last week.
Mr Jackson was angry that the council was spending money on home repairs for landlords who claimed they could not afford them due to a new council licensing scheme.
However, in a letter to the PT, Cllr Walsh wrote: “The taxpayer will not be footing the bill as any loan to improve a property must be repaid in full to the council before the landlord receives any future rent.
“This is not a subsidy for ‘slum’ landlords. The policy clearly states that an applicant for funding must not have been the subject of any Housing Act enforcement action or convictions.”
Cllr Walsh also said that of the £1.2 million budget on homes repairs, as quoted by Mr Jackson, only £40,000 would go towards private landlords who would also have to pay a management fee to the council.
Moreover, £1 million of that budget will help keep “vulnerable and elderly people living independently and in their own homes for longer, rather than having to go into hospital or a nursing home.”
The remaining budget is spent on bringing empty homes back into use for homeless families, Cllr Walsh added.
Earlier this week an unhappy Mr Jackson requested answers from the council to 18 questions regarding the repairs scheme.
He told the PT that he had been “genuinely surprised” by how much support he had received over his column, adding: “It is well known that the city council has come under huge pressure to delay or curtail the selective licensing policy.
“I will be monitoring the scarce funds very carefully to ensure that new monies are going to deserving cases and not slum landlords.”
Selective licensing covers nine Peterborough wards. Landlords who are accredited members of a nationally accredited landlord/letting agent association pay £50 per property for a five-year licence. That fee rises to £600 for non-accredited landlords and £750 for a house of multiple occupation.