Agenda item

Private Rented Sector - Selective Licensing

-           Strategic Director of Neighbourhoods and Adult Services to report.


Further to Minute No. 216 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 19th March, 2014, Councillor Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Safe and Attractive Neighbourhoods, introduced a report by the Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Adult Services, which provided detail of the feedback from the consultation (in which over two thirds of residents expressed support for a mandatory Selective Licensing scheme), and made recommendations based on the responses, comments and representations made.


In considering the use of Selective Licensing powers the assessment provided a range of considerations which needed to be balanced in determining the way forward.  There have been three options appraised:-


·                To designate areas for Selective Licensing.

·                Support for a landlord led voluntary scheme.

·                To do nothing.  These options were discussed and reflected the current position arising from the initial Business Case, consultation and the consequential changes highlighted as part of the report.  The appraisal presented evidence for and against each option. 


The appraisal presented as part of the evidence for and against each option was set out in detail as part of the report along with the finance and risks and uncertainties associated with each option.


Consideration was given to the option for a voluntary landlord led scheme  and whilst this had some merits a voluntary scheme wold not provide any compulsion to register or penalty for failing to register.   It was noted that a voluntary scheme did not oblige the landlords, who needed to improve their tenancy and property management, to join and they were able to avoid any further obligations unless they were detected through routine enforcement methods.


Following appraisal of the consultation responses it was proposed that the scheme focus on specific areas in the four areas of:-


·                Masbrough.

·                Eastwood.

·                South East Maltby.

·                Dinnington.


This had also resulted in the number of properties for inclusion being reduced from 2,000 to 1,400.  The originally suggested fee of £687 had been reviewed as a result of the expected reduction in the number of licensable properties and a review of the processing methods for applications, with the aim of reducing the burden on applicants.  Comments in the consultation about allowing multiple applications on one form have been considered as appropriate and models from other authorities have been reviewed.


Presentation of the options were presented to the Improving Places Select Commission on 23rd July, 2014 and after considerable debate and questioning the Select Commission concluded that, in the areas identified, there was a need for action with regard to private rented sector properties, and, if legal advice was that the Council had to pursue a voluntary scheme, it should be the first course of action. The Improving Places Select Commission, however, made the caveat that, if a voluntary scheme failed, they would wish to see the Council move to a mandatory scheme as quickly as possible. 


Cabinet Members were in support of the proposals and could only see this being a benefit to the people of Rotherham in the raising of standards in private rented accommodation.


Resolved:-  (1)  That there was evidence and considerable public support for the Selective Licensing of Private Rented properties in identified neighbourhoods of the Borough.


(2)  That  the four areas detailed in this report as Housing Act 2004 Part 3 Selective Licensing areas be designated as per the designations and maps in Appendix 5, together with the standard Licence Conditions in Appendix 9.


(3)  That a further report be submitted to the Cabinet on the 18th March, 2015, to agree the licence fees.


(4)   That it be noted, following decision to introduce a Selective Licensing scheme, a public notification period of three months is statutorily required ahead of implementation in order to communicate the decision to consultation respondents and the public. 


(The Mayor agreed to exempt this item from the call-in procedure on the grounds that it was urgent in that it was legally required to start publicity within seven days of the decision to designate)


(Councillors Doyle, Hoddinott and Hussain left the room whilst this item was discussed on the grounds that they were or had family members who were landlords in the Borough)

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