Rogue landlords targeted

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Blackpool has been handed a major cash boost by the Government to clamp down on rogue landlords and drive up housing standards across the resort.

The money – £293,000 from the Department for Communities and Local Government – will be used to pay for extra enforcement officers who will target and work with landlords to solve problems at dangerous and unfit properties.

There will be a particular focus on ensuring that conversions of disused hotels and guest houses produce high quality homes.

There will also be a focus on tackling landlords and managing agents who rent out the largest numbers of sub-standard properties, and providing better training for landlords.

Town hall bosses made a bid for the money from Government.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We’re extremely pleased this bid has been successful and will be using the money to fund further enforcement and advice work with landlords.

“There will be a particular focus on improving the former guest house sector and working with landlords and managing agents with a large number of low quality properties which require improvement.

“Another part of the money will be spent on improving training for landlords.

“This will mean there will be no excuse for not knowing what standards we expect and are working towards.”

Council bosses say they have taken a proactive approach to driving up housing standards across town.

In 2011, Blackpool brought in a Selective Licensing scheme in South Beach.

The policy requires all landlords to hold a licence, ensure effective management, and keep their property to a decent standard.

It has resulted in anti-social behaviour incidents falling by a third, and criminal incidents associated with private rented properties halving in the area.

A consultation has now been held to extend the scheme to the Claremont area.

New planning policies have also been introduced requiring higher standards when applications to convert guest houses to homes are submitted.

Each year, the housing enforcement team, with police and the fire service, now undertake around 4,000 property inspections and 1,500 inspections in response to resident complaints.

Outreach programmes have also been launched to try to support vulnerable tenants with family intervention teams, housing options teams and social services providing expertise and assistance.

A social lettings agency – BC Lettings – has been established to work with landlords to offer people at risk of homelessness a 12 month tenancy with support in a quality private letting.