Proposed consultation on selective licensing

Sandwell Council is set to launch a major consultation on  proposals to introduce a selective licensing scheme for private landlords in parts of West Bromwich.

A report to be discussed at next week’s Cabinet meeting (Wednesday 26 June) asks for approval to seek the views of local residents including tenants and landlords before introducing the scheme  to designated streets in and around the West Bromwich High Street and town centre area.

The report highlights the important part the private rental sector plays in providing accommodation in the borough and that the sector has grown from 5% in 2001, to 15% in 2011 and is now estimated to provide 26% of the borough’s accommodation, around just under 35,000 properties.

It acknowledges that there are good quality landlords and letting agents but there are also those providing inadequate accommodation and management of their properties.

This has a significant impact on people’s lives and on council and partner resources when tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour fly-tipping and poor property conditions.

Designated streets  in and around West Bromwich High Street and the town centre have been identified as areas that would see significant benefits – such as improved housing conditions, less crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as improving the image and perception of the area –  if selective licensing was introduced.

Councils can introduce selective licensing under the Housing Act 2004, to tackle problems such as low housing demand, significant anti-social behaviour, poor property conditions, an influx of migration, high levels of deprivation or high levels of crime.

Under the proposed scheme, landlords in the designated area would have to apply for a one-off licence for each house they let, and meet various licensing conditions.

If the report is approved, a 10-week consultation on the proposed  scheme will go ahead asking the views of local residents including tenants, landlords, managing agents, businesses and other members of the local community.

Councillor Joanne Hadley, cabinet member for homes, said: “We know that we have a lot of good landlords who recognise their responsibilities and care about their tenants. 

“We also know there are landlords who charge high rents, allow their tenants to live in poorly-maintained properties or don’t take action against tenants causing anti-social behaviour, and all of these are unacceptable.

“We want to make sure that all tenants whatever there type of tenancy live in a good standard of property in a safe neighbourhood.

“We want to hear people’s views on these proposals as part of the consultation.”

If approved, a further report with the results of the consultation will be brought back to cabinet at a later date.

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