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The Government has blocked controversial plans by Stoke Council for a landlord licensing scheme covering 3,000 homes.
Stoke Council applied to implement a selective licensing scheme in 14 areas in a bid to drive up housing standards in the private rented sector and cut anti-social behaviour.
However, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have refused the city council’s application, saying it did meet the ‘statutory criteria’.
Stoke Council’s proposed scheme would have introduced selective licensing to 154 Stoke-on-Trent streets, following smaller schemes in Tunstall, Cobridge and Fenton.
Under the scheme Stoke landlords would have had to pay £500 to purchase a five-year licence for every rental property they owned in the designated zones.
The rental properties would have had to meet certain minimum standards, with the landlords facing fines of up to £20,000 for any properties rented out without a licence.
The controversial scheme had been opposed by many landlords in Stoke who claimed that it would merely create an additional burden for ‘good’ landlords, while doing little to address the real problems facing the sector.
Stoke landlords welcomed the decision.
Sara Hammerton, who rents out student properties in one of the Stoke areas due to be covered by the proposed scheme, said: ‘I was surprised when I heard about this, but I think the ministry has made the right decision.
‘I understand that the council is now considering its options, but I really hope they don’t waste even more taxpayers’ money appealing against this decision.
‘What we’ve been saying all along is that the council should be concentrating on enforcement of the existing rules. Selective licensing only punishes the good landlords while doing nothing about the rogue ones.’
Following the MHCLG refusal Stoke Council cannot appeal, but they are free to reapply to introduce the scheme.
Stoke Council chiefs had previously argued that selective licensing would have helped it tackle poor housing conditions and management practices. Cabinet members backed the scheme in December, following a public consultation earlier in the year.
The MHCLG has not disclosed the exact reasons why the city council’s application was turned down.