Council launches crackdown on town's rogue landlords, but housing union thinks it will fail
PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 April 2018
North Somerset Council has vowed to crack down on rogue landlords in Weston-super-Mare after a report revealed the town has the 'worst housing conditions' in North Somerset.
The council is set to introduce an ‘action area’ in the town centre, randomly inspecting rented properties in a zone, spanning parts of the Central, Hillside and South wards, to ensure they are up to scratch.
The council will focus resources in the action area, and will be able to implement fixed penalty notices to bad landlords.
The authority conducted a review of housing conditions across North Somerset in the autumn, and found Weston town centre has a high concentration of sub-standard accommodation in privately-rented homes and homes in multiple occupation (HMO).
The scheme will also see more training resources available for landlords.
The action area proposal was subject to a public consultation which closed in January, and the council has now confirmed it will go ahead alongside a mandatory licensing of HMOs on October 1.
Elfan Ap Rees, the council’s deputy leader and executive member for housing, believes Weston’s high concentration of ‘poor housing conditions is having a negative impact on tenants’ health and wellbeing, and also affects the area as a whole’.
He said: “We know many landlords provide privately rented housing of a very high quality, however some landlords do very little to maintain and improve their properties, which contributes to tenants living in extremely poor conditions.
“No-one should be paying to live in damp, cold accommodation which lacks basic facilities.
“Landlords who do not yet provide the required standard of housing will be tackled under this innovative new approach.”
But Alan Rice, of housing union ACORN Weston, believes a mandatory licensing scheme would be the only way to ensure rogue landlords are ousted and tenants are no longer ‘ignored’.
He said: “North Somerset has promised should its action area scheme, underwritten by self-accreditation of landlords, fail to bring about the desired improvement the failure will not be ignored, and licensing of landlords will be reconsidered.
“ACORN Weston will hold it to that promise and we will continue to fight tooth and nail for mandatory licensing.”