Scarborough South still awaiting decision to extend licensing scheme for homes

Scarborough Council's hopes to extend a mandatory licensing scheme to improve the quality of private rented accommodation in the town is being held up as the government may have gone "cold" on the idea, councillors have heard.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 11:01 am

Last year, the authority voted to bring in the selective licensing legislation to cover the Scarborough South area following a public consultation.

The council has previously brought in the compulsory selective licensing scheme, which requires landlords of properties to apply to the authority for a licence, for areas in the north of the town in 2017.

The central part of Scarborough was then added to the scheme in 2019.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

Scarborough Town Hall.

The licences require landlords to ensure that all properties meet safety standards and are not in a state of disrepair.

As the south scheme, which covers the town's Weaponness and Ramshill ward, would take the total number of properties covered by selective licensing above 20% it needs approval from the Government.

Yesterday, the council's housing manager, Andrew Rowe, told a meeting of the authority's Lives and Homes Overview and Scrutiny Committee that the Government had so far not made a decision, blaming Covid for the delay.

He said: "Some time ago now just before the pandemic we proposed a third scheme and council approved it and we have applied to the Secretary of State for the designation of the third scheme which is in the Weaponness area.

"Despite lots and lots of chasing, including some lobbying by the MP the government has not made a decision on that third scheme yet and we sense that perhaps the government is becoming a little bit cold on selective licensing but we will see."

He added that a number of selective licensing applications from other authorities in recent weeks had been refused, suggesting a "change of emphasis or policy" from the government.

Mr Rowe said one option open to the council was to end the first selective licensing scheme the council adopted in 2017 as all the inspections in that area had been carried out.

If that was to happen it would no longer need the government to sign off on the Weaponness extension.

The licence, which costs £550 for the first one, requires landlords to meet a range of licensing conditions including a current gas safety certificate if there is gas in the property, working smoke alarms and safe electrical appliances.

They must have suitable tenancy agreements and appropriate management arrangements in place, including those for dealing with anti-social behaviour and security.

Proposed licence holders and managers are also required to prove that they are "fit and proper" persons.

Close to 1,000 licences have already been issued in the north of Scarborough and more than 1,500 homes and properties have been inspected with thousands of hazards and issues found.

Cllr Bill Chatt told yesterday's meeting that the third licensing scheme was "much needed" by people living in the town.