Landlords’ backlash in new HMOs crackdown

Housing chiefs hope additional licensing will control  any tenants who prove unruly in Blackpools designated holiday areas, such as Vance Road
Housing chiefs hope additional licensing will control any tenants who prove unruly in Blackpools designated holiday areas, such as Vance Road
Have your say

Tough new rules aimed at tackling cheap, badly-run bedsits blighting parts of the Blackpool holiday area have been agreed by councillors.

Additional licensing will target around 700 houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in a designated area in the centre of the town.

But landlords have warned the move will just displace problem tenants from one area to another.

The council’s ruling executive approved a recommendation to introduce the controls after hearing many landlords were willing to house tenants “without references or who are known to have a history of causing problems”, according to a report by housing chiefs.

Proposals for a selective licensing scheme, which would include all private rented properties in the designated area, remain on the table but are expected to be brought back separately at a future date to the executive committee for consideration.

Landlords have been campaigning against the introduction of selective licensing which they say would unfairly penalise landlords who are already acting responsibly.

Landlord Stuart King told this week’s meeting; “The National Landlords Association is strongly opposed to this scheme and questions the council’s evidence base for both this proposed scheme and the existing ones.

“They have an understanding of selective licensing on a national level and have seen that it never answers the underlying issues.

“Displacement of problem tenants from one area to another is the only certainty of selective and additional licensing.”

But the council says its selective licensing schemes already in place in South Beach and Claremont have proved successful in reducing anti-social behaviour.

They say the initiatives act as a warning to rogue landlords to clean up their act, but are also positive for responsible landlords because improving the whole neighbourhood will also help them attract better tenants.

Mr King said the government was already considering extending national regulations for the licensing of smaller HMOs so the council did not need to proceed with its own scheme, and he questioned whether the move was just aimed at raising money from landlords.

The Central additional licensing scheme will apply to around 700 HMOs between Blackpool Football Club at the south end, through the central Gateway area bordered by Seasiders Way and Central Drive, encompassing the town centre all the way to Talbot Road at the north end. The area will stretch inland as far as Devonshire Road.

These are smaller HMOS, typically two storeys high and housing three or more people living in two or more separate households, and which are not covered by national licensing schemes.

The additional licensing scheme means landlords must comply with rules laid down by the council including maintaining their properties to a safe standard as well as a duty to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Fees for the licences, which will last five years, will range from £670 to £940.

Failing to apply for a licence could lead to prosecution and a fine of up to £20,000, while landlords would face fines of £5,000 for each breach of a licence.