Selective Licensing scheme for privately rented properties unlikely to expand to Whitby, says council's housing manager
Scarborough Council’s housing manager has told councillors he would be “nervous” about trying to expand a licensing scheme for private properties to Whitby.
Andrew Rowe told councillors that he doubted the council could ever get approval from the Secretary of State to roll the scheme out to the north of the borough elective as he spoke to members about a consultation to adopt selective licensing in parts of the Weaponness and Ramshill ward in Scarborough.
Selective Licensing is where all privately rented properties within a designated area have to be licensed by the council, with landlords paying around £550 to get the licence. Those that do not can be prosecuted.
Selective Licensing areas can be created in locations suffering from a range of problems including deprivation, high-levels of crime, poor property conditions and large numbers of privately owned flats.
Two areas in Scarborough are already included in the scheme with the consultation now open into expanding it to Weaponness and Ramshill.
During a members briefing update on the scheme at Scarborough Town Hall yesterday (Monday) Cllr Jane Mortimer (Con) praised the success of the scheme and asked if Whitby could be included in the future.
She said: “For me, it is a win-win situation. It is a win for the borough, it is a win for the landlords and it is a win for the tenants as we haven’t got enough social housing to cope with everybody so we need good premises for people to go into.
“So is there a case, and I know it is hard, and there is a lot of work to do and Scarborough has a lot of private landlords but Whitby has the same thing. So are you looking at Whitby [in the future].”
In response, Mr Rowe, the housing manager for the authority, said he doubted it would get the necessary approvals from the Government.
He said: “When we first looked selective licensing the very first thing we did was map the whole borough as in order to introduce a scheme we have to meet certain conditions around housing stock, levels of deprivation, crime issues so we did that and [the three Scarborough areas] jumped out.
“When we did the first mapping there was no real justification to do it in the rest of the borough.
“We have to get the secretary of state’s approval to do it so I would be very nervous about [putting Whitby forward] and I think we would be challenged.”
The licence 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 be required to prove that they are “fit and proper” persons.
Close to 1,000 licences have already been issued in Scarborough and hundreds of homes and properties have been inspected with thousands of hazards and issues found.
The consultation on extending the scheme to Weaponness and Ramshill is running until March 31.
To take part in the survey and to see what streets are included visit www.scarborough.gov.uk/consultation.