Peterborough landlord licensing scheme could be extended

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A landlord licensing scheme in Peterborough could be extended under plans being drawn up by the city council.

Peterborough City Council introduced selective licensing in December 2016 in a bid to tackle rogue landlords.

The scheme forces landlords to hold a licence (now costing £600) for each property they rent out in nine different areas of the city.

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According to the council, selective licensing has “brought about a behaviour change in the sector,” leading to calls from councillors for it to be extended across the city.

A property in Dogsthorpe Road which was found to be inadequate when inspected. Photo: Peterborough City CouncilA property in Dogsthorpe Road which was found to be inadequate when inspected. Photo: Peterborough City Council
A property in Dogsthorpe Road which was found to be inadequate when inspected. Photo: Peterborough City Council

The scheme ends on October 31, with “evidence gathering currently taking place” to determine which areas would come under its jurisdiction for the following five year period.

The scheme’s renewal will need government approval.

Selective licensing was initially criticised by landlords who warned they would be forced to sell up - leading to evictions - or would see increased costs passed onto tenants.

However, around two years after its introduction the council said that out of nearly 7,000 property inspections which had been undertaken since the scheme began, 38 per cent required repairs and a full inspection to be carried out by a housing enforcement officer.

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On top of that, the council said applications for gas safety certificates in the month before selective licensing began showed 18 per cent of properties were previously without one.

Since the scheme began (it has already been extended once) 7,623 properties have been licensed while around 550 have been inspected in the past year with none leading to formal prosecution.

The council said improved property standards have meant that breaches are “instead resolved through advice, guidance and action via the civil penalties procedure where necessary”.

Selective licensing currently covers all privately rented properties in parts, or all of: Central, North, East, Park, Fletton, Bretton North, Stanground Central, Walton and Orton Longueville wards.

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To obtain a licence landlords have to meet certain standards and comply with conditions which include ensuring the property has a gas safety certificate, working smoke alarms and safe electrical appliances and furniture.

Moreover, landlords are required to meet a host of other criteria which includes monitoring overcrowding, resolving anti-social behaviour, legally removing tenants where there is evidence of criminal activity or anti-social behaviour and ensuring properties are in good condition and free of waste at the start of each tenancy.

Despite members of the council’s Adults and Communities Scrutiny Committee wanting it extended across the city, selective licensing can only be implemented in areas which meet set government criteria.

This includes if the area is: suffering from low housing demand, experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour, suffering from poor property condition and has high levels of migration and deprivation.

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The council said the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is currently reviewing selective licensing. It added: “This review could affect any future schemes the council may want to introduce.”

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