Plans to improve standards in private rented homes are one step closer

Published: Tuesday, 11th December 2018

Proposals for new licensing schemes aimed at improving conditions in private rented housing in Stoke-on-Trent will be sent to the secretary of state for a final decision.

City council cabinet members today agreed to ask James Brokenshire MP – Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – for permission to roll out its selective licensing system to 14 new areas.

This bid to drive up housing standards follows the success of previous selective licensing schemes in Tunstall, Fenton and Hanley, which saw hundreds of hazards* – problems that could harm the health or safety of residents – being eradicated in properties.

The proposed 14 additional schemes are:

  • City centre
  • Shelton South
  • Longport
  • Hill Street and Liverpool Road area
  • Shelton New Road
  • Burslem town
  • Regent Road, Hanley South
  • North Road area
  • Sun/Wellesley Street area
  • Furnival Street area
  • Wellington Street area
  • Waterloo Road, Moorcroft
  • Middleport
  • Northwood West

These areas contain a high number of privately rented properties – ranging from 37.5 per cent to 83.1 per cent – with an estimated 4,766 residential properties across eight wards and 154 streets. Of these, an estimated 3,048 are privately rented.

Selective licensing is a tool provided by the Housing Act 2004. Its aim is to tackle crime, deprivation and low housing demand as well as property conditions – resulting in a positive impact on residents and the wider community.

The city council launched a 14-week consultation about the plans in January, with residents landlords, businesses, stakeholders and councillors asked to provide feedback. More than 390 responses were received with over 1,400 comments, which were analysed before being published online for review.

People then had the opportunity to make new comments before the final proposals went before cabinet members at a meeting held today. A further 50 responses were received.

Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “Poor housing conditions and management practices in the private sector have had a detrimental effect on the housing market in certain areas of the city.

“Some poor condition properties – leading to low demand and anti-social behaviour – result in unsettled communities, and along with other social and economic problems this can seriously undermine any efforts to build a thriving and prosperous city. Poor housing conditions can also affect people’s health, with conditions such as excess cold, damp and mould impacting on physical health and mental wellbeing throughout life.

“It’s important to note that we have multi-agency task and finish groups set up – covering many of the specific areas – organised and run by the selective licensing team to additionally tackle the crime, anti-social behaviour and litter issues. I personally have attended most of these meetings.

“In the past 18 months we have received more than 325 reports from vulnerable residents about harassment and illegal evictions.

“This is why we want to introduce selective licensing in the areas that have high levels of private rented accommodation and experience poor property conditions and management practices as well as other issues – and why we launched a consultation about it earlier this year.

“We received an incredible amount of feedback about the selective licensing proposals and officers have worked hard to analyse it.

“We have listened to people’s views and we made a number of changes based on feedback we received. These included changes to the fees and payment arrangements, removing some of the selective licensing conditions, and amending the ‘fit and proper person’ criteria.

“The next step is to seek permission from the secretary of state to go ahead with the proposals.”

Health and safety risks in the home are assessed using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System by the council’s private sector housing team. Anyone who has a problem with disrepair in their private rented property can contact the team on 01782 232087.

The Landlord Accreditation Scheme North Staffordshire provides advice to its members to improve the physical and management standards in the private rented sector. Further information about the scheme can be found at www.landlordaccreditation.co.uk or by contacting 01782 232271.

For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232265.