Great Yarmouth Borough Council Plans Landlord Licensing Scheme

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Great Yarmouth Borough Council plans to establish a five-year selective licensing scheme in the Nelson Ward.

The selective licensing scheme will aim to improve housing condition for tenants in the private rental sector by discouraging unethical landlords who exploit vulnerable people.

Thus far the plans, which have gone out to consultation and involve inspections, have been opposed by the Eastern Landlords Association. The association raised objections such as the extra costs being imposed upon landlords who behave lawfully. It also argued that the scheme will not deter criminal landlords who will still behave badly.  

The association also argued that additional costs may be passed onto tenants whilst landlords may also seek to evict ‘challenging tenants’. Tenants will also be able to refuse inspectors, which will lead to punishments for landlords. It was also argued that there is little evidence that other licensing schemes improve housing.

The association says: ‘Defining areas of Great Yarmouth problem zones in the consultation will not encourage lending or investment into these areas. The stigmatisation will be reflected in property values within them.’

It also stated that the council should use its existing powers to deal with the issue of rogue landlords, such as through enforcing criminal behavior orders and interim management orders.

The association also says the council has sufficient powers to deal with the issue of rogue landlords, such as criminal behaviour orders and interim management orders.

However the association report adds: ‘We are willing to work in partnership with the council to develop tenant information packs, assured shorthold tenancies and accreditation of landlords, along with targeting the worst properties in a given area.’

Chairman of the Great Yarmouth branch of the association, Paul Cunningham, said the scheme would lead to the stigmatisation of the Nelson Ward and claimed it was a money making exercise for the council.

Chairman of the council’s housing and neighbourhoods committee, Andy Grant, said: ‘Selective licensing schemes elsewhere have proved successful, providing the additional resources to improve living conditions in challenged neighbourhoods with a high proportion of private sector housing. We would continue to work with partners to deliver the project, carrying out inspections to identify and work with sub-standard landlords and to enforce compliance, with financial penalties for those who break conditions. The scheme would link to the Neighbourhoods that Work Project to help vulnerable and disadvantaged tenants.’

He continued: ‘There is no evidence ensuring good housing standards and property management through licensing would result in additional evictions – the scheme would empower vulnerable tenants who feel they can’t report concerns for fear of eviction. With issues related to the anti-social behaviour of tenants, we would work in partnership with Norfolk Constabulary, landlords and other partners. It would help to create a level playing field for ethical landlords and has the potential to increase rental income and property values.’

The licensing plan is set to be debated at a full council meeting in September.

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