Landlords in an area of south-west Sheffield may have to sign up to a council scheme that compels them to improve the standards of the homes they rent out.

Sheffield City Council is seeking approval to designate an area of London Road, Abbeydale Road and Chesterfield Road for the Selective Licensing of privately rented properties.

Selective Licensing is a tool which can be used by councils to help improve the standard of private sector housing and where there are significant problems with private rented housing. It is being proposed as it increases landlords’ accountability for the management of their properties and tenants. The council’s aim is to make sure that landlords know what they need to do for their tenants and that their tenants live in properties that are of a satisfactory standard.

The council acknowledges that the majority of landlords across Sheffield are professional, providing accommodation that is well managed and safe. However, in the past 3 years the council has been working intensively in the London Road, Abbeydale Road and Chesterfield Road areas as a result of increased complaints and referrals.

Common issues were observed at a number of properties which suggested that a significant number of properties had poor conditions, and that it wasn’t on an individual property basis.

After a series of inspections over a two-year period the council’s concerns were confirmed as significant and serious problems with the condition and management of the private rented properties were found.

This led to the council consulting on a proposed Selective Licensing Scheme for the area from November 2017 to February with landlords, tenants, letting agents and businesses.

The results of the consultation have led the council to seek approval for Selective Licensing with some amendments to the original proposed scheme. The original proposed area to be covered by Selective Licensing has been reduced and there are changes to the proposed fee structure for landlords to be registered in the scheme. The proposal is that there will be a licence fee which will covers the full 5 year period of the scheme. Landlords were concerned about paying the fees in one go so it is now proposed that they will make them in a 2 stage payment.

The first payment of £500 will cover the processing and administration of the application. The 2nd payment will depend on the level of information and risk. Landlords that complete a fully valid application will have a second payment of £250 to pay.

Landlords that do not provide everything required, will have a second payment of £500 to pay. Those that do not apply at all, or who have to be chased, will have a total of £1,500 to pay.  In addition, landlords that don’t comply will be liable for prosecution and/or financial penalties.

Councillor Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety said: “We’ve seen good progress with some landlords who have worked with us voluntarily to make significant improvements to the safety and standard of their properties.

“It’s our responsibility to make sure that all private sector tenants live in homes that are well-cared for and safe. Where you live has a big impact on your life so the reason why we are proposing Selective Licensing now is so that those landlords who are perhaps more resistant to improving their properties will have to carry out the necessary work. If they don’t, they put themselves at risk of a criminal record plus substantial financial penalties.

“We welcomed the views given as part of the consultation and hope that we will see more progress and success as the proposed scheme is introduced in this area.”

If Selective Licensing is approved it will start from 1st November 2018.