John Holdich - Rental licensing will improve lives

John Holdich ENGEMN00120131211162123
John Holdich ENGEMN00120131211162123
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The past week has seen us reach an important milestone in our journey to improve the city’s private rental accommodation.

Under the new selective licensing scheme, landlords in certain areas of the city will need to have a licence to let out their properties. As of September 1, landlords can now apply online for the licence which needs to be in place by December 1.

Not only will licensing help us tackle rogue landlords in Peterborough, but it also supports property owners that are having difficulties with unscrupulous tenants.

More than a third of the city’s privately rented housing will be included in the scheme – that’s around 6,000 properties. Landlords who are members of an approved national body need only pay £50 for a five-year licence, while other non-accredited landlords pay £600 – which works out at £10 per month over the course of the scheme.

More information can be found on the council’s website including the areas where selective licensing will apply. These areas were chosen because they have higher than average levels of deprivation and crime, or because private rental property conditions there are often poor, which creates low demand for housing.

To obtain a licence landlords must have certain safety measures, including gas safety certificates, working smoke alarms and safe appliances and furniture. They also need tenancy agreements in place and references from new tenants.

I’m really pleased that this scheme is now underway. It gives our enforcement team more powers to address problems that residents report in these areas – including overcrowding and unhealthy living conditions.

Those that don’t have a licence in place by 1 December will need to pay a higher rate to get one. Any landlord found to be in breach of licence conditions faces prosecution and, if convicted, an unlimited fine. The council could also revoke their licence and take over management of the property.

The vast majority of landlords offer decent, well-maintained accommodation and most tenants are respectful and responsible. But unfortunately there are a small number of exceptions that have a negative impact on tenants, their neighbours and, sometimes, whole communities.

Selective licensing will help to improve the quality of life for everyone in these areas.

Almost 3,000 people visited the fantastic pop-up Literacy Hub which was in Bridge Street during the school summer holiday period. Staff from City College Peterborough and the National Literacy Trust manned the hub and must be applauded for their hard work in providing such an interesting and informative place for families to visit.

Continuing with a cultural theme, I want to say well done to the Peterborough Youth Orchestra who performed a wonderful programme of classical favourites at St John the Baptist Church in Cathedral Square last week. The concert spoke volumes for the musical talent we have here in Peterborough. Young people who are interested in music should visit the Peterborough Music Hub website www.peterboroughmusic.org.uk – this group is making sure music is accessible for young people so they can thrive and develop.

One of the events that makes Peterborough such a vibrant place to live is the annual Italian Festival. It’s great fun with fantastic food, children’s entertainment and a display of classic Italian cars and motorbikes. I definitely recommend a visit this weekend.