Agenda item

Minutes:

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13, the following question was submitted:-

 

From Councillor Cathy Mason:

 

“To have a home which is warm, dry and safe, is a right that every person, of any age, deserves.

 

Ashfield Labour's Manifesto Pledge to establish a 'Selective Landlord Licence' has been introduced to enable this to happen in Ashfield's private rented sector.

 

Can you tell the council, the benefits this scheme is already having for the private tenants in the New Cross and Stanton Hill areas of Sutton-in Ashfield?”

 

Councillor Keir Morrison, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Assets, responded as follows:-

 

“Thank you for your question Cathy, and I agree with your comments about safe and habitable housing, particularly in the private sector where historically there has been evidence to suggest unsafe housing conditions in Ashfield, particularly in the New Cross and Stanton Hill areas.

 

As Council is aware, it was the Labour Group, which after a consultation period, took the decision to introduce a Selective Licensing Scheme back in 2015.  The aim of this was to drive up standards in the private rented market and to demonstrate a holistic approach to housing in Ashfield, underpinned by a convincing evidence base in line with our own housing strategy.

 

A week last Thursday I took a Cabinet report regarding the fantastic progress of the Selective Licensing Scheme and I would like to take this opportunity to share this information with Council.

 

Currently the Council’s selective licensing team are processing 260 applications, and are actively engaged with 560 landlords.  Initial projections on the number of landlords requiring a licence have been surpassed as we now anticipate approximately 950 properties will require a licence across the two areas.  This increased number, coupled with a lower than expected uptake of the discounted rate means projected income from the scheme has been significantly increased – any income generated from this scheme must only be used to develop it further.

 

In light of the increased demand and corresponding income, there is a requirement for additional resources in terms of recruitment; the costs of which can be fully met by the licence.

 

Particularly pleasingly, the scheme has brought about early improvements we are seeing in housing quality in the New Cross and Stanton Hill areas. Most notably:

 

·         36 properties have been fully re-wired

·         17 properties have had new roofs and new windows

·         8 properties with serious risks identified have been remediated.

 

Finally, whilst we recognise there are responsible landlords operating in Ashfield, as an authority we aren’t naïve enough to think that all landlords comply with building regulations and safety standards, therefore let this be a clear message to any rogue landlord within Ashfield’s designated selective licensing areas.

 

We will not tolerate poor housing in the private sector and if you fall short of what is required we will always push for the strongest possible enforcement action to be taken.”

 

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 13.5, Councillor Mason was invited to ask a supplementary question as follows:-

 

“You’ve just answered Keir that the money that we make has got to be reinvested.  Are we looking at developing this in different areas?”

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Assets again responded as follows:-

 

“My own view is that I’d like to go for this fully; I’d like the whole of the District to be covered by the Selective Licensing Scheme but obviously we’ve got to take a pragmatic approach, a staggered approach in terms of staffing capacity and also what evidence base we have.  Therefore I’m requesting a further Cabinet report in January 2018 with regards to widening the scope of the Selective Licensing Scheme.”

 

(During consideration of this item, Councillors Rachel Madden and Robert Sears-Piccavey left the room at 8.13 p.m. and returned to the meeting at 8.15 p.m. and 8.16 p.m. respectively.  Councillors Chris Baron and Tom Hollis also left the room at 8.13 p.m. and 8.14 p.m. respectively.)

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