North Somerset Council (NSC) is currently running a consultation on their recent “Review of Housing Conditions in the private rented sector”. The council has a statutory requirement to improve private rented properties in poor condition.
One in two people in Central Ward live in private rented properties and one third of those properties are considered “non-decent”. Parts of Central ward are in the 2% most deprived in the country.
In June 2016 North Somerset’s Executive Member for Housing, Elfan Ap Rees, issued an executive decision to introduce selective licensing of landlords in Central ward, and part of Hillside ward, to improve the private rented stock. This followed a consultation with 62% of respondents in favour of licensing – 78% of tenants were in favour.
Some landlords threatened a judicial review of the consultation/decision and consequently Elfan Ap Rees revoked the decision in order to look at other options but licensing remained an option on the table.
The review currently under consultation is the result of the officers’ piece of work – a 50 page document which is slanted away from licensing and gives a preferred option of an “Action Area” underwritten by a landlord self-accreditation scheme.
Liberal Democrats believe that mandatory licensing of landlords is the best route to securing significant improvement in properties as witnessed in Bristol’s Stapleton Road area and the London Borough of Newham, where over 2,000 improvement notices were issued in four years and 1,225 landlords were prosecuted.
The one example in the review of a scheme solely supported by a self-accreditation scheme, Southend-on-Sea, doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Southend-on-Sea Council voted only in November to look at abandoning the self-accreditation scheme, SEAL, and introducing mandatory licensing.
If you care about the state of private housing in Weston, please give your support by completing the consultation supporting mandatory licensing.