The implementation of a scheme to drive up standards in the private rented housing sector is to be paused until coronavirus restrictions are eased.
South Tyneside Council's Cabinet approved the introduction of 'selective licensing' in two areas of South Shields in November last year.
The scheme requires landlords of all privately-rented properties within the designated zones to operate under the terms of a licence which comes with a number of conditions aimed at ensuring accommodation is of a high standard and well managed.
In order to achieve these standards, each licensed property must be fully inspected by the council.
Given current restrictions, the council has decided to pause the scheme until it can be run safely and effectively.
Cllr Mark Walsh, Lead Member for Housing and Transport, said: "As part of the scheme, each property needs to be fully inspected to ensure standards are met before a licence can be issued.
"Due to current restrictions, and because of concern for vulnerable residents, we feel these cannot take place safely at the moment.
"Proactively engaging and improving relationships with landlords is also going to be crucial to the success of the scheme so getting the timing right on this is important.
"The pandemic is making it challenging to get the necessary systems and resources in place. We are keen to get this right so we are putting things on hold until we can deliver the scheme and its objectives safely and effectively.
"We hope to go live later this year, and, in the meantime, we will continue to engage and work with landlords to address any reported hazards or issues with tenancies."
The scheme is being introduced in the Beach Road and surrounding streets, and the 'Long Streets' areas of South Shields.
For the council to be able to declare a selective licensing scheme there must be a high proportion of private rented properties and 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: "We are confident that this scheme will be an effective method to tackle some of the property condition and anti-social behaviour issues identified in these areas.
"It will also help provide tenants with a greater choice of safe, good quality and well-managed accommodation, and reduce turnover and the number of empty properties."