Call for crackdown on Weston’s rogue landlords as council backs down on licensing scheme

PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 December 2017

Weston town centre has the 'worst' rental housing conditions in North Somerset.

Weston town centre has the 'worst' rental housing conditions in North Somerset.

Archant

A Weston-super-Mare based union has demanded a crackdown after a damning report shed light on a culture of ‘rogue landlords’ and sub-standard rental homes.

Weston town centre is home to the ‘worst housing conditions’ in North Somerset, according to a local authority report.

The findings came as little surprise to North Somerset Council, which had agreed to implement a selective landlords licensing scheme in central Weston in a bid to improve housing standards.

But after pressure from landlords, the council reversed its decision, and its latest report disposes of licensing due to resource constraints, instead pursuing landlord self-regulation.

Alan Rice, of tenants’ union ACORN Weston, believes selective licensing ‘represents the best option to provide rapid improvement in housing conditions’.

Mr Rice, speaking at the council’s adult services and housing policy and scrutiny panel (ASHP), said: “We were shocked when the council revoked its decision to introduce the scheme in Weston’s most deprived areas.

“A consultation found 62 per cent of respondents supported licensing and 27 per cent landlords agreed it would improve conditions.”

Mr Rice added Weston town centre is home to some of the most deprived areas in England, and said: “One in two people live in private rented homes and nearly one third of rented homes were classed as non-decent. Those facts are inextricably linked.

“The report has not explained why licensing has been relegated to the second division and is teetering at the edge of the table.

“When 52 per cent voted to leave the EU, Mrs May said ‘Brexit means Brexit’ yet when 62 per cent vote for licensing in Weston apparently licensing doesn’t mean licensing. I think that will be a difficult one to explain to tenants.”

But Samantha Jackson, of the National Landlords Code of Excellence, believes licensing would take years to be effective.

She told ASHP: “It is a blanket policy. What is the point in wasting resources by inspecting properties which do not require it? The real rogues won’t register, the bad landlords will stay under the radar while the council is busy tying itself up in knots.

“Targeting a specific area and labelling it as troubled increases insurance premiums, decreases property prices, doesn’t attract investment, and landlords tend to pass the cost on to tenants.”

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