Councillors to Consider Scheme to Drive Up Housing Standards
Councillors will next week be encouraged to adopt a scheme to drive up standards in the private rented housing sector.
South Tyneside Council's Cabinet will be asked to approve the introduction of 'selective licensing' in two areas of South Shields.
This would require landlords of all privately-rented properties within the designated zones - Beach Road and surrounding streets, and the 'Long Streets' areas - to operate under the terms of a licence awarded by the council.
The licences would come with a number of conditions aimed at ensuring accommodation was of a high standard and well-managed. The scheme would hold landlords and tenants more accountable for the care and cleanliness of the accommodation and surrounding area - issues which currently incur significant cost to the council to manage.
The scheme would enable the council to provide additional support to landlords within those areas and work towards a more desirable housing environment. Further engagement with landlords and tenants would result in improvements to the communities and address some of the concerns around property condition.
Formal consultation was carried out earlier this year, with letters sent to more than 4,000 households, landlords and businesses in the proposed areas as well as drop-in sessions and presentations at landlords' forums. The council received 49 responses; 25 objected to the scheme - all those who objected were either landlords or landlords who also live in the affected areas.
Cllr Mark Walsh, Lead Member for Housing and Transport, said: "The private rented sector plays an important role in South Tyneside's housing market, but some areas present challenges where properties have been subject to neglect, leading to increased anti-social behaviour.
"Introducing selective licensing in these zones will give the council a tool to tackle some of the worst privately-rented accommodation in the borough in a coordinated and adequately resourced way, alongside engaging proactively with landlords and improving relationships.
"It would help provide tenants with a greater choice of safe, good quality and well-managed accommodation and turnover and the number of empty properties would be reduced."
For the council to be able to declare a selective licensing scheme there must be a high proportion of private rented properties and where there is at least one of the following issues: low housing demand; anti-social behaviour; high levels of deprivation or crime and high levels of migration.
Cllr Walsh added: "In the supportive comments received, the reduction in anti-social behaviour was a consistent theme; tenants and residents had experienced it first-hand and believed a selective licensing scheme would help deter it."
Cabinet will be recommended to approve the introduction of the scheme in both areas, for a period of five years. It would be developed to be self-financing, with any income generated used for the running of the scheme of improvements in the licensed areas."