Agenda item

Selective Landlord Licensing: Responses to the Consultation and Approval to Designate the Newport 1 Area


The Mayor and Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health submitted a report for Executive consideration.


Local authorities had powers to introduce Selective Landlord Licensing (SLL) schemes for a five-year period in areas with a high number of private rented properties, low housing demand, poor housing conditions, high levels of deprivation, crime and migration and/or significant and persistent anti-social behaviour associated with the tenants of private rented properties.


The purpose of such a scheme was to improve standards of property management in the private rented sector, and when combined with other measures, leading to improved physical, social and economic conditions and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour. There were currently three SLL schemes operating in Middlesbrough; one in North Ormesby and two in the Newport ward (commonly known as Newport 1 and Newport 2). Newport 1 scheme was due to end on 12th June 2024. An evaluation of the scheme had been carried out which showed improvement in a number of areas.


The area continued to experience major challenges and therefore it was proposed that it would benefit from a further five-year period of designation as a Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme. The SLL schemes in Middlesbrough did not meet the threshold for Secretary of State approval which was required for those schemes that cover 20% or more of its geographical area or privately rented properties, provided that the authority had consulted for at least 10 weeks on the proposed designation. The schemes in Middlesbrough did not meet the threshold for Secretary of State approval and a ten-week period of consultation had been undertaken. The report provided a summary of the responses to the consultation for consideration by Executive and sought its approval for the Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme to go ahead in the Newport 1 area.




That Executive approve the designation of Selective Landlord Licensing in the Newport 1 area.




Do not renew the SLL designation/new designations and carry out alternative interventions to replace of a formal scheme.


Alternatives to Selective Licensing were considered in 2014, 2019 and 2023 prior to the designation of the current Selective Licensing areas. These included voluntary registration and the use of traditional enforcement tools. These would have required significant additional investment by the Council to achieve any sustainable change across the area.


There was a need to ensure that that proactive assessment of properties and an increased focus on renting and management practices was sustained. While Selective Landlord Licensing was not intended to be indefinite, a shift to an alternative non-regulatory approach or only relying on traditional reactive enforcement tools were not considered appropriate to sustain or progress the improvements achieved.


Traditional interventions did not provide the level of engagement with landlords necessary for the desired improvements. Landlord take up of previous accreditation schemes had been very low, they tended to only engage with responsible landlords who saw a value in being part of a scheme. An example of a non-mandatory scheme is the Stockton Pluss model which was run by landlords. Stockton Council figures showed that they had 80 members for this scheme with 539 properties and not all landlords who opposed their SLL scheme joined the accredited scheme.


Short term proactive enforcement projects could have an impact but were not sustainable without significant investment from existing revenue budgets or grant funding.


A pilot project undertaken in early 2023 to carry out proactive housing inspections in a selected area of Central ward found it very difficult to engage with landlords and tenants. This was detailed in the Evaluation report.


Considering the responses received to the consultation (detailed above) it was maintained that the recommended action to designate the Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme in Newport 1 was the most appropriate course. The area met the legal criteria for the designation of a Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme which was the most effective solution to improving management standards in the private rented sector and would sustain the improvements already achieved in Newport 1 and prevent further decline.




The SLL schemes in both North Ormesby and Newport had resulted in improvements in the living and environmental conditions for those living in those areas and contributed to reductions in antisocial behaviour. A further designation of the Newport 1 scheme would continue to ensure that property standards were maintained, anti-social behaviour issues related to tenants were reduced and managed and that landlords were held accountable for the costs of both licensing and property management improvements. The existing SLL designation was self-financing and, in line with the recommended changes to the scheme, the new designation would operate in the same way.


The designation would require all privately rented properties within the identified boundary, subject to statutory exemptions, to apply to be licensed for up to five years and comply with the licence conditions.


The proposed fee of £998 enabled the Council to ensure the scheme was self-financing, it was calculated on the resource requirements for the administration and regulation of the selective landlord licensing scheme.


The current boundary for the SLL scheme was to be maintained to ensure coverage of the area in relation to improved housing standards, environmental conditions and reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour. Developing the designation for Selective Licensing in the area identified would enable the Council to sustain the improvements already achieved in the Newport 1 area and prevent the improvements from declining again.


In 2018 Middlesbrough Council Scrutiny Panel reviewed the North Ormesby 1 scheme. The Panel was fully supportive of the scheme and in summary:


·        They recognised the achievements made through SLL in the North Ormesby ward, including improving community confidence which has led to increased reporting of anti-social behaviour and crime to the SLL team.

·        They were complimentary of the work achieved and applauded the Selective Licensing Team for their efforts.


The Panel also learned that in November 2017, the team had been awarded Outstanding Contribution to Prevention at the Cleveland Community Safety Awards.


Throughout the investigation, the Panel made reference to the issues within Gresham and University wards and the increasing number of private rented housing properties. The Panel recognised the excellent work achieved since the introduction of Selective Licensing in North Ormesby and hoped that any future schemes would mirror this model.


Consideration was currently being given to the next steps in terms of rolling out SLL to other areas of the town which met the criteria. A further report would be brought to Executive seeking approval for the next steps.


An internal audit was conducted during July-Sept 2023 which focused on the Selective Landlord Licensing Schemes currently operating in the areas of North Ormesby and Newport 1. Auditors concluded that:


·        the SLL schemes were well administered, the financial model was fit for purpose, and that performance of each of the schemes was monitored to ensure that the Council’s objectives were met.

·        a sound system of governance, risk management and control existed, with internal controls operating effectively and being consistently applied to support the achievement of objectives in the area audited.

·        controls within the system at the time of the audit provided Substantial Assurance.


The Statement of Policy and Procedure for Selective Landlord Licensing (SPPSLL) was published on the Council’s website and set out the requirements of the schemes, and was appropriately reviewed, updated and approved. The aims and objectives of each of the schemes provided links to the Council’s Strategic Plan and to the improvement of housing. The Selective Landlord Licensing (SLL) team worked in close partnership with other Council services and external agencies to maximise the benefits of the schemes.


Supporting documents: