Cracking down on the bad landlords

Multi-agency raid targeting anti-social behaviour in South Shore
Multi-agency raid targeting anti-social behaviour in South Shore
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A MASSIVE crackdown has begun on Blackpool’s rogue landlords and tenants from hell.

Communities have been blighted by problems sparked by unruly residents who live in shocking conditions in privately rented properties.

The Gazette joined Trading Standards officers, police and fire chiefs during a raid on two houses – dubbed “drinking dens” – on Dean Street in South Shore.

Both properties have sparked a catalogue of complaints from local residents routinely intimidated by drunk and threatening neighbours.

Inside one of the properties – split into four flats – tenants were found living in squalor with hypodermic needles, lethal wiring and general filth.

Petrified residents say they feel intimidated by people drinking in the street outside the premises while hoteliers in the area are concerned the tenants’ behaviour is damaging their trade.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “It’s unacceptable the actions of a few people were affecting the rest of the local community.

“It’s clear to see from what was found inside these properties it was necessary for us to take this action.

“We have a duty to ensure that landlords are providing safe and decent accommodation to their tenants. Not only that, landlords need to ensure they are managing their properties correctly so tenants’ behaviour does not get out of hand and lead to potentially dangerous situations. ”

The crackdown is part of a new drive by the council to improve standards and drive away rogue landlords.

Groundbreaking plans are in place to begin a strict system whereby every landlord in Blackpool has to have a licence before they can rent out a property.

If they breach the terms of their licence they will be fined or barred from renting out property.

One hotelier from the South Beach area, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s scary as I’m walking past these tenants when they’re outside drinking. It’s not good for my guests either.”

In the adjacent premises, which contained five flats, electric cables had been left loose and the roof was leaking. Rubbish was also piling up around the property.

The landlord, who did not wish to be named, said he found it difficult handling problem tenants.

He said: “The tenants are always good to start with but after a week the place is filthy. If you give them two months notice, they wreck the place. It’s the idiots that ruin it for everyone.

“I want to get some workers in who don’t drink. I want some decent people.”

The South Beach area – Chapel Street to Balmoral Road and from the Promenade to Seasiders Way and Yeadon Way – has been chosen to pilot the council’s proposed new Selective Licensing Scheme.

Landlords will face a fine of up to £5,000 for breaching conditions and they can also be fined £20,000 if they do not apply for a licence.

There are currently hundreds of privately rented properties in South Beach area, which has above average problems of crime, anti-social behaviour, poor housing conditions and a transient population.

Many of the rented properties are in former bed and breakfast and holiday accommodation. A consultation surrounding the proposals is currently under way and will run until October 17 and, if the South Beach pilot is successful, it will be rolled out across the town.

Coun Campbell said it was an important step in tackling anti-social behaviour and protecting residents.

She added: “This is ultimately about improving the quality of life for people living in Blackpool. It is also about removing some of the deterrents for investment.

“Until we address these issues we will not get people wanting to stay in the South Beach area.”

The scheme will be managed by the Council’s Housing Enforcement Team which will provide support for landlords and help them to deal with problem tenants.