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North Ormesby Selective Landlord Licensing consultation

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Last year we asked for your views on continuing the Selective Landlord Licensing scheme in North Ormesby ward. The consultation ended on the 7 December 2020. You can now view the full Executive report, including consultation responses, online.

The Selective Landlord Licensing scheme has been running in North Ormesby for almost 5 years, and has led to a number of improvements to the area. To make sure these improvements continue, we want to keep the scheme running.

We're running a consultation to find out what residents, landlords, community groups, councillors, and local businesses think about this.

You can find out more in the proposal document.

Downloads, including the proposal document and other documents mentioned on the page, can be found in the 'downloads' section at the bottom of the page.

What is Selective Landlord Licensing?

The Housing Act 2004 gives councils the power to introduce Selective Landlord Licensing in areas with low housing demand and/or high levels of anti-social behaviour. A Selective Landlord Licensing scheme can run for a maximum of 5 years.

The aim of Selective Landlord Licensing is to improve the management of privately-rented properties so they have a positive impact on the area. We know many landlords offer decent, well-managed and well-maintained accommodation, which does not cause any problems for the local community. But poor management in the private rental sector can have a negative effect on an area and its economy.

All privately-rented properties in the Selective Landlord Licensing area need a licence. There are some exceptions to this, and you can see these in appendix 4. The licence includes conditions that all licence holders must meet.

We started the scheme in North Ormesby because it's an area of low housing demand, with ongoing, high levels of antisocial behaviour. We believe the scheme, combined with other measures, is leading to improved social and economic conditions in the area.

Consultation

We’re holding a consultation to find out what tenants, landlords, and others think about us carrying on the Selective Landlord Licensing scheme in North Ormesby.

The consultation will run for 10 weeks, from 9am on Monday 28 September 2020 until 12pm on Monday 7 December 2020.

Once the consultation is finished, we’ll update this page to say what we’re going to do.

How do I respond to the consultation?

The consultation has ended. We'll now look at the responses and publish the consultation results when a decision has been made.

Find out more

If you need more information, please call 01642 728100.

We’d especially like to hear from the following people in North Ormesby and surrounding areas:

  • private rented sector tenants
  • private sector landlords
  • owner-occupiers
  • social rented tenants
  • social sector landlords
  • community groups
  • ward Councillors
  • local businesses

How does Middlesbrough's scheme work?

Properties affected

All privately-rented properties in the Selective Landlord Licensing area of North Ormesby must be licensed. Appendix 4 has a list of exemptions to this rule.

Any property which is currently licensed as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) will not need to apply for a licence.

The list of streets included in the Selective Landlord Licensing area of North Ormesby is available on the Selective Landlord Licensing page under 'The selective licensing areas'.

Licence holder

We must be sure that the most appropriate person applies to be the licence holder. In most cases, this is the property owner. When deciding whether or not to grant a licence, we must:

  • check the proposed licence holder is a ‘fit and proper person’ (see below)
  • make sure there are suitable management arrangements for the property
  • make sure the proposed licence holder is in a financial position to maintain the property - our checks will include whether we’ve previously carried out 'works in default' connected to the person, or whether the proposed licence holder has been declared bankrupt or has any County Court Judgements against them

Manager/agent

We must be sure that the manager or managing agent (if they're different from the licence holder) is also a 'fit and proper person' (see below).

Fit and proper person

When deciding whether a landlord and/or managing agent is a 'fit and proper person', we will look at whether they have:

(a) committed any offence involving fraud or other dishonesty, or violence or drugs, or any offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (c. 42) (offences attracting notification requirements);

(b) practised unlawful discrimination as defined in the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, age, race, religion or belief, marital status, pregnancy, maternity, or disability in, or in connection with, the carrying on of any business; or

(c) contravened any provision of the law relating to housing or landlord and tenant law.

To check this, all applications will need detailed information from the landlord and any relevant managers.

A criminal conviction or evidence of unlawful discrimination or breaches of housing or landlord and tenant law does not necessarily mean that a landlord won't pass our checks. We have to look at every case individually, and weigh up all the circumstances when making a decision. For example, we have to think about:

  • what the conviction was for
  • the circumstances of the case
  • how long ago it was, and whether it is spent or not
  • whether or not it will affect the person's ability to be a good landlord
  • the risk of the same thing happening again, and whether that would affect the person's duties as a licence holder (see appendix 2 for more information)

Where we have concerns, applicants will be required as part of their licence conditions to seek a Disclosure Scotland.

Is there a fee for making the 'fit and proper person' checks?

We charge £20 per person to cover the costs of carrying out the 'fit and proper person' checks. The proposed licence holder will only need to pay this fee once, even if they own multiple properties.

Licence holders who have different managers/managing agents for different properties will need to pay the fee for each of the managers.

Compliance inspections

Once properties are licensed, our programme of compliance inspections covers all private rented properties within the area. These are multi-agency inspections which check that properties and landlords are following the licence conditions. We also offer support for tenants through ‘tenancy relations’.

Tenancy relations

Tenancy relations involves:

  • looking at tenants’ needs
  • providing help directly to tenants to deal with problems early
  • making referrals to other support and health services, including screening services, where needed
  • helping to find employment or training opportunities for unemployed tenants

Landlords

Fees

How is Selective Landlord Licensing paid for?

We charge landlords a fee to make a licence application. The fee includes the administrative processes, property inspections, and checking compliance with the licence conditions throughout the five year licensing period.

We charge a standard fee of £745 for a five year single occupancy licence.

The fees we get from applications are only used for the Selective Landlord Licensing scheme and not for any other project.

Method of payment

This fee is divided into two payments.

The first payment of £373 + £20 is used to process the application, and 'fit and proper person' process.

The second payment of £372 is used to pay for the ongoing administration of the scheme, and the enforcement of legislation associated with the scheme. The second fee is only payable when we've decided the landlord is a 'fit and proper person' to be licenced.

Is there VAT on the licence fee?

No, there is no VAT on the licence fee.

Applying for a licence

How long does a licence last?

A licence is valid for a maximum of five years.

Are there conditions attached to the licence?

The licence holder has to satisfy a number of conditions. Breaching these licence conditions can lead to prosecution and a fine of £5,000.

Mandatory conditions relate to the following requirements:

  • the landlord must get references from everyone wanting to live in the property
  • the landlord must produce gas certificates
  • electrical appliances must be kept safe
  • the property must have working carbon monoxide alarms in any room in the house which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation, and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance
  • the property must have working smoke alarms
  • each tenant must be provided with a written tenancy agreement

We are proposing to include a number of discretionary conditions which relate to the management of the property, including:

  • making sure the number of occupiers does not cause overcrowding in the property
  • supplying us with a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate
  • having a suitable anti-social behaviour plan in place

When should I apply for a licence?

Owners of properties that meet the criteria must apply for a licence as soon as the scheme starts. Not applying for a licence could lead to prosecution and an unlimited fine. Property owners who already have a licence will need to apply again once the scheme starts again.

Do I have to apply for a licence for each of my properties?

Yes. A licence will only be valid for one property. You will need a licence for each of your properties.

Can I transfer a licence?

Licences are not transferable. This is set out in law.

Not applying for a licence or being refused a licence

What sanctions will there be if I do not apply for a licence?

Not applying for a licence could lead to prosecution and an unlimited fine. If prosecuted, this would lead to the licence holder no being classed as a 'fit and proper person' (see above). This could mean they'd need to find someone else to hold the licence and manage the property, or dispose of the property.

Can you refuse to license my property?

Yes. If the property does not meet the right conditions, and/or if the licence holder/manager does not meet our 'fit and proper person' criteria.

What will happen if you refuse to license my property?

If you do not bring a property up to the right standard, or you do not meet our 'fit and proper person' criteria, you can appoint another person to be the licence holder.

In extreme cases, if there is no chance of the property being licensed in the near future, we can apply for an Interim Management Order (IMO). This would allow us to step in and manage the property for up to one year.

Can I appeal against a decision?

You can appeal if we:

  • refuse to give you a licence
  • give you a licence which has conditions
  • take away your licence
  • make changes to your licence
  • refuse to make changes to your licence

You must appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), usually within 28 days.

Benefits and support for landlords

How does Selective Landlord Licensing benefit landlords?

Improving a neighbourhood benefits landlords as well as the wider community. Selective Landlord Licensing:

  • helps to raise the overall management standards in the private rented sector
  • allows resources to be targeted better in order to deal with anti-social tenants
  • has a positive effect on rent levels and capital values in the longer term

Where there is an inexperienced, or absentee, landlord, the scheme encourages the use of a reputable management agent.

These changes encourage investment in the town and support a thriving private rented market.

What advice and support is offered to landlords?

We give landlords advice and guidance on the conditions they will need to meet to get and keep a licence. This includes:

  • supporting and guiding them to tackle anti-social behaviour
  • improving their management through training and ‘hands on’ help
  • free tenancy referencing service
  • inclusion in our free empty property guide advertising vacant properties

Tenants

I am a tenant, how does this affect me?

Selective Landlord Licensing makes sure your landlord is managing and maintaining your home properly. They should also act in a responsible way. This includes carrying out tenant checks, getting gas and electrical safety tests carried out, and giving valid tenancy agreements.

How can I find out if my landlord has applied for a licence?

Once we’ve issued a licence to a landlord, the information will be entered onto our public register. The public register is available on the Selective Landlord Licensing page under 'Public access property register'.

My neighbours act anti-socially. Can Selective Landlord Licensing help?

We expect landlords to work with us and the police to deal with anti-social tenants in an appropriate way. This may include evicting the tenants, if they continue to act anti-socially and cause a nuisance in the area.

General questions about Selective Landlord Licensing

Why did we introduce licensing?

North Ormesby is still experiencing major challenges associated with social and economic decline, including:

  • high levels of crime and antisocial behaviour
  • high levels of private rented properties and poor living conditions
  • high numbers of empty properties
  • a transient population

The North Ormesby ward is still rated as one of the most deprived in the country, based on low income levels, low educational attainment, poor health, and crime. It has the second highest rate of crime and anti-social behaviour out of all Middlesbrough wards.

What are the benefits of licensing?

As part of a programme of improvements in an area, licensing can:

  • stop the decline of an area
  • reduce anti-social behaviour, crime, and vandalism
  • support landlords
  • improve housing and management standards for private tenants
  • benefit the wider community and businesses
  • offer long-term economic benefits

Licensing ensures houses rented out through private landlords, or agencies, are properly managed, in good condition, and fit to live in. This is expected to lead to less vacant properties in the area, through building a stronger, safer community, where people choose to live and where residents have a strong voice to tackle problems, including those in the private rental sector. Selective Landlord Licensing is part of the North Ormesby Action Plan, along with work aimed at tackling long-term empty properties. Licences will include conditions which ensure all tenancy agreements have rules on anti-social behaviour, which help landlords to take action against anti-social tenants. The scheme includes a multi-agency team providing a 'visit and support service' for tenants, which can address health, welfare, and social issues to improve their quality of life, and work towards greater stability for families. It’s expected that this work will help to make a more sustainable neighbourhood.

How does Selective Landlord Licensing help with vacant properties?

Anti-social behaviour often stops new residents and tenants wanting to move into the neighbourhood. Tackling this behaviour improves the area and makes it a more attractive place to live. Tackling anti-social behaviour also supports our plan to bring empty homes back into use and develop more sustainable neighbourhoods. Landlords, or owners with an empty property, are encouraged to bring their properties back into use.

Does Selective Landlord Licensing drive landlords to sell their properties and move to other areas?

There is no evidence that a Selective Landlord Licensing scheme has a negative impact on the private rental sector. The scheme is a way to improve badly-maintained and badly-managed properties. These can have a negative effect on how people see the private rental sector, causing a high turnover of tenants, and a lack of sustainability in the market.

Will Selective Landlord Licensing be rolled out in other areas?

The scheme is already running in part of Newport ward. The scheme could potentially be rolled out in other areas which suffer similar problems, but only after a consultation, and if there is a good reason and we have the right resources to help us run the scheme.

How does Selective Landlord Licensing support strategies for the area?

We believe Selective Landlord Licensing offers valuable support to existing work on tackling empty homes, preventing homelessness, reducing anti-social behaviour, and creating sustainable, high quality neighbourhoods.

Downloads

In appendix 3 (licence conditions), we've made an addition to the licence conditions under the section Notification/Consultation of Changes, and added the following condition: They must also inform Middlesbrough Council of: a) when you sell the property in order that your licence can be revoked.