The initiative comes off the back of reports highlighting the desperate impact of poor housing on the quality of life, aspirations and growth of children, families and communities
A scheme to root out private landlords who place people and families in damp, dirty and unsafe homes in 25 of the most deprived parts of Birmingham has been unveiled.
The city council is asking people to comment from October 25 on its plans for a ‘selective licensing’ scheme that should help make the city’s rental hotspots a no-go zone for bad landlords and boost good providers.
It will operate in the poorest and most crime hit areas of the city, where poor rental housing tends to be more concentrated. Landlords would have to apply for and pay for a licence to charge rent and guarantee standards.
More than 104,000 of the nearly half a million residential properties in Birmingham are for rent – up more than 50% in ten years.
A licensing scheme currently exists only for the 6,121 official HMOs (house of multiple occupation) that are open in the city.
The council would, subject to consultation, apply to designate 25 wards in the city for selective licensing, under the Housing Act 2004. Communities minister Michael Gove would have to approve the scheme.
The wards selected all meet criteria of having more than 20% of its properties for rent alongside high levels of deprivation and crime.
The initiative comes off the back of reports highlighting the desperate impact of poor housing on the quality of life, aspirations and growth of children, families and communities.
Housing charity Shelter called for urgent action to protect the thousands of people living in unsafe and poorly repaired homes, with no sign of it ending, in its report in May.
The licensing scheme proposed will not, on its own, address these major issues.
But under the scheme, private sector landlords would have to adhere to standards likely to include minimums around size of rooms, heating, security, behaviour of tenants and visitors and rubbish disposal.
It would also ensure that any landlord or managing agent was a ‘fit and proper person’ and competent to manage the property. The properties would be subject to inspection and complaints would be investigated and enforcement action taken.
In a statement, the council said it recognises the good work of many private sector landlords in providing quality accommodation for their tenants. We want to continue to work with the private sector market to ensure that all landlords provide properties to the same standard.
Cllr Shabrana Hussain, new Cabinet member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, said: Poorer quality housing and high levels of crime and deprivation have a massive effect on all of us. This scheme will contribute to the city council’s priority of introducing more enforcement and licensing within the private rented sector.