Improving the general standard of privately rented properties across Peterborough is a priority for Peterborough City Council and one area in which we have had a lot of recent success, writes Rob Hill, assistant director for public protection at Peterborough City Council.
We introduced our Selective Licensing policy back in September 2016, requiring those landlords who rent properties in designated areas to obtain a licence.
In order to do this, a landlord must be a fit and proper person, meeting a certain standard before they can legally rent out a property.
Each licence requires the landlord to uphold a number of conditions.
These include fitting and maintaining smoke alarms, obtaining an annual gas safety certificate, and keeping all electrical appliances in a safe condition.
As well as improving the general condition of housing in these areas, local communities have also benefited from a reduction in littering and overcrowding.
Unfortunately, there are still a minority of landlords who think they are above the law, and whenever we obtain evidence of this, we will look to take action.
One recent case involved a landlord who failed to comply with orders to improve the standard of a property in Limetree Avenue, Peterborough, and ended up paying over £7,500 in fines and court costs.
When officers inspected the property they found it in serious disrepair, there was a lack of modernisation and no proper heating system was in place.
Building materials, tools and personal possessions were strewn throughout the house, making movement and access difficult without the risk of injury or a fall.
To make matters worse, the house was occupied by a single adult male who suffered from health problems and limited mobility.
Officers issued the landlord with Improvement Notices to bring the property up to standard, and any landlord who does not comply with these is committing a criminal offence.
The landlord did not comply, and to cut a long story short ended up in court, where he was found guilty of the above offence and handed his heavy fine.
We want to make it clear that our housing team is here to help landlords, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding and do great jobs.
So if you’re a landlord and unsure about aspects of the law, or you’re thinking of becoming one and want some advice, call the team on 01733 747474.
You may recall that last year the council set up a taskforce group to help address the issue of discarded needles in the city.
The group, which includes various organisations and three Peterborough women - Fiona Henry, Kirsty Hadfield and Bernadette Gibbons - who started their own discarded needles campaign, has already made a lot of progress in a short space of time.
Already, we have developed more thorough ways of recording needle finds, and officers have worked with pharmacies across the city to encourage people to hand in used needles.
Posters explaining how drug users can properly dispose of needles have also been produced and handed to GP surgeries.
We are now working to install new needle bins at points across the city and to help with this, the group will be paying a visit to Ipswich next month.
They have had similar issues regarding discarded needles but have taken a proactive approach, with new bins installed at various locations across the town.
These bins are emptied weekly and officers have consulted fully with service users to encourage them to use the bins and to generally be more responsible when it comes to disposing of needles.
The visit will enable us to see their work first hand and learn from their successes.
So I’m looking forward to what should be a highly beneficial trip.