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Full council to consider report about project to improve housing and social conditions in part of Great Yarmouth

GREAT Yarmouth Borough Council will consider next week whether to approve a project aiming to improve housing and social conditions for private sector tenants in part of Great Yarmouth, while tackling unethical landlords.

Following a public consultation, full council will consider a report which recommends the introduction of a Selective Licensing Scheme for the most challenged 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.

The report states that the Nelson Ward meets the legal tests for a Selective Licensing designation, identifying that the area has 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, the report concludes that improved property management standards should contribute to an overall improvement in living conditions and a better quality of life for residents in all tenures, while making it harder for unethical landlords to prosper and creating a level playing-field for ethical landlords.

If the plans are agreed by full council on Thursday, September 13, the scheme would come into effect on January 7, 2019 and run for five years. 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.

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.

The full council meeting follows a 10-week public consultation this summer, which resulted in 95 responses, mostly from private sector landlords or letting agents. The report states the overall results show there is strong support for the plans from residents, businesses, workers and other respondents, with 89.3% of these respondents strongly agreeing, agreeing, or not in objection. However, 93.9% of the private sector landlord respondents objected.

In a joint statement, Cllr Andy Grant, Conservative chairman of the Housing and Neighbourhoods Committee, and Cllr Trevor Wainwright, the Labour group leader, said: "Many landlords manage their properties well and comply with authorities and their legal responsibilities. Unfortunately, there remain some unethical landlords who exploit their tenants, often the most vulnerable people in society, and have an unfair advantage due to their practices.

"Given the long-standing challenges in the Nelson Ward and the proportion of private rented housing there, the officers' report concludes that Selective Licensing offers the potential to help lift the whole area and improve residents' quality of life. The final decision is a matter for full council.   

"The consultation responses will be valuable in reaching a decision, and we would like to thank everyone who took part, as well as the officers who ran the consultation and put together the report."

Last modified on 05 November 2020

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