Scheme to charge landlords ‘has element of racism about it’ claims leading city councillor

Cllr Mohammed Jamil

Cllr Mohammed Jamil

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A controversial scheme to charge landlords in parts of Peterborough has an element of racism about it, according to a leading city councillor.

Cllr Mohammed Jamil, member for Central Ward, hit out at the new Selective Licensing Scheme which will charge landlords to house tenants in Gladstone, Millfield, New England and Eastfield.

Cllr Jamil, Labour group leader on the council, queried why other parts of the city, where he believes rogue landlords are equally prevalent, are also not being targeted.

Cllr Jamil, who owns two properties in the proposed licensing area, said: “There’s an element of racism in that. The majority of landlords here are going to be Asian. We have good landlords and bad landlords in this area. It’s no different to Fletton, Woodston and Bretton.”

Cllr Jamil also feels landlords could pass on added costs to tenants.

Government legislation allows for selective licensing in areas which are suffering from anti-social behaviour.

Affected landlords who are not accredited or use an accredited agent will pay £600 for a five-year licence, while landlords owning a House of Multiple Occupation will pay a fee of £750.

Landlords who are accredited or who put their properties in the hands of an accredited agent will pay £50.

To earn a licence, landlords will also have to meet ‘Fit and Proper Person’ criteria which includes being able to speak English. Landlords convicted of serious offences may not be able to obtain a licence.

The council has said it will work to introduce specific bulky waste collections within the selective licensing area where fly-tipping has been a recurring complaint.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich said any suggestions that the scheme had an element of racism about it was “the biggest load of rubbish.”

He added: “The public are demanding that we do something about it in that area.”

The scheme could be expanded if other areas of the city are judged to be in a similar situation to where the licensing is being introduced.

Selective licensing was put forward two years ago but was met with anger by landlords.

A consultation followed and the council has only now agreed to press on with the scheme.

The proposal will be scrutinised by councillors next week then passed on to cabinet member Cllr Peter Hiller to decide if should be approved.Cllr John Peach, member for Park Ward, approves of the scheme. He said: “We want to crack down on houses where there are sofas left on the streets.”