**At this point in the meeting the Mayor and Councillor Cooper declared prejudicial interests and withdrew from the meeting. The Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Children’s Services Chaired for this item.**
The Executive Member for Regeneration and the Director for Adult Social Care and Health Integration submitted a report for Executive’s consideration.
Local authorities had powers to introduce Selective Landlord Licensing (SLL) schemes over 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, that should lead to improved physical, social and economic conditions.
Two SLL schemes operated in Middlesbrough; one in North Ormesby and the second in a selected area of the Newport ward (known as the Newport 1 scheme.) Newport ward continued to experiences major challenges. A proposal document had been drawn up (Appendix A) presenting the evidence to show that the remaining area of the Newport ward (known as the Newport 2 scheme) met the legal criteria to be designated a SLL area.
Secretary of State approval was not required for SLL schemes that covered 20% or less 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. Executive approval was sought for a period of consultation to be undertaken on the proposal documents for a Selective Landlord Licensing Scheme in the Newport 2 area.
Executive approval was required as the scheme was delivered via a legislative framework requiring organisational approval to start formal consultation on the Proposal for the Newport 2 scheme prior to implementation.
1. Do not designate and continue with the existing arrangements.
Carry on with the existing arrangement using the current resources available without a dedicated SLL team. This would mean utilising the current staffing and regulatory roles and managing the area through the existing arrangements.
Without a dedicated SLL team the Council would not have the legal controls to hold landlords accountable for their tenant and property management, there would be no staffing resource to carry out mandatory tenancy referencing, pro-active housing standards inspections, or to respond to the antisocial behaviour. This would continue to have an imbalance and difference in the approach between the two areas of the Newport ward.
2. Do not designate the area and carry out alternative interventions.
Alternatives to Selective Licensing were considered for other wards prior to the designation of the North Ormesby and Newport Selective Licensing areas. These included voluntary registration and the use of traditional enforcement tools. These would require significant additional investment by the Council to achieve any sustainable change across the area.
Alternative interventions would have still required 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 was 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.
It was proposed that the recommended action was the most appropriate course to ensure a sustainable and cost effective solution to improving management standards in the private rented sector in the designated Newport 2 area and that a formal consultation be commenced.
The reason for the recommendations were contained within the OPTIONS element of the report.