Committee to consider report to improve housing and social conditions in part of Great Yarmouth
PLANS to improve housing and social conditions for private sector tenants in part of Great Yarmouth, while tackling unethical landlords, will be considered by Great Yarmouth Borough Council's Housing and Neighbourhoods Committee, on June 14.
Many landlords manage their properties well and comply fully with authorities and their legal responsibilities, but there remain some unethical landlords who exploit their tenants, often the most vulnerable people in society.
The committee will be asked to approve for consultation a proposed Selective Licensing Scheme, covering parts of the Nelson Ward, which would require landlords of most private rented housing to be licensed and meet conditions around health and safety and standards.
Under the plans, the council would 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 or simply fail to apply for a licence.
In addition to improving conditions for residents, the report concludes that this approach would create a level playing-field for ethical landlords, by discouraging unethical landlords who have an unfair advantage in the market due to their poor practices.
Regulation around compliant ethical landlords would be light-touch, with all landlords encouraged to join an associated Landlord Support Service giving them access to a range of offers, services and discounts.
There are about 1,630 privately rented homes in the area, although some of these are already subject to mandatory licensing and therefore exempt from selective licensing. Owner-occupied or housing association homes are also among the exemptions.
In a joint statement, Cllr Andy Grant, Conservative chairman of the Housing and Neighbourhoods Committee, and Cllr Trevor Wainwright, the Labour group leader, said: "These plans aim to raise housing standards and support communities in the most challenged parts of Nelson Ward, which have long suffered from significant and persistent levels of sub-standard housing, deprivation, crime and anti-social behaviour related to the private rented housing sector.
"As about 60 per cent of the accommodation there is in the private rented sector, ensuring good property management should lead to an overall improvement of living conditions in the area, benefitting our most vulnerable residents, creating a level playing-field for ethical landlords and lifting the whole community."
Gavin Dick, Local Authority Policy Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: "We look forward to working with Great Yarmouth Borough Council on their proposed scheme to ensure it's effective at targeting unethical landlords and improving the standards of the private rented sector in the area."
Subject to committee approval, a 10-week public consultation will take place from June 15 to August 24. If the scheme is subsequently agreed by full council in September, it would initially run for five years from December 14, 2018.
People will be able to read the full proposed scheme, coverage area and take part in the consultation at Have your sayPaper versions of the consultation form will also be available at the Town Hall, Comeunity at 135 King Street, and GYROS, based at the Books and Beans Café in Great Yarmouth Library.
In addition, two drop-in consultation sessions are planned, aimed at landlords, tenants, letting agents, other residents in the area, businesses, charities, and statutory organisations:
Monday June, 18, 9.30am to 4pm, in the Assembly Room, Town Hall
Monday, June 25, 9.30am to 4pm, in the Rumbelow Gallery, Great Yarmouth Library