Sheffield City Council is taking action to improve the quality of life for people in the Page Hall area of the city.
The Council is looking to introduce a Selective Licensing scheme for around 350 homes in the area in a bid to improve living conditions, property management standards, improve the housing market and help reduce anti-social behaviour.
A Selective Licensing scheme imposes a legal requirement for all landlords in a designated area to register as a landlord, apply for a licence for each property that they rent out in the area, and to comply with various licence conditions. Selective Licensing would give the Council more teeth to tackle irresponsible letting of properties.
As a result of Selective Licensing, tenants would be treated better with higher quality accommodation and improved safety. Anti-social behaviour associated with overcrowding, noise, litter and sanitation issues would also be addressed.
Councillor Harry Harpham, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Sheffield City Council said:
“As a Council we are determined to change things for the better and to take action to help improve the quality of life for people in our city. We are taking firm action to improve poor property and management standards of private rented housing in Sheffield.
We recognise the challenges in the Page Hall area and are working with agencies to improve things for residents. Selective Licensing is a housing solution, and one of the powers we have as a Council to intervene.
We have spoken to everyone in the area and the vast majority of residents agree with this course of action, they are in favour of Selective Licensing.
It simply isn’t fair that people in and around Page Hall should be affected socially or economically just because they live on a street where landlords let houses irresponsibly. It is also clearly not right that newer residents could be living in, or causing sub-standard accommodation.”
Introducing the scheme, along with a voluntary scheme in the wider area, should significantly help to regenerate the area, improve market demand, raise neighbourhood perceptions and improve community integration.
Local residents and responsible landlords have told the Council that they are angry that irresponsible landlords are profiting from renting out their houses without properly considering their duties to tenants or the local community. The local community want action to be taken to get local landlords to let their properties more responsibly and to support people to understand cultural norms.
After consultation, the area for the Selective Licensing scheme has been reduced to focus on around 350 homes. A Voluntary Registration Scheme will be implemented in the wider Page Hall area.
A legally enforceable Selective Licensing scheme would be put in place in the area with the most serious issues, whilst a voluntary registration scheme would be in place in the wider area to allow the Council and Landlords to work together to improve standards of property and tenancy management.
The voluntary scheme was suggested by a number of landlords who were open to receiving education and advice about landlord responsibilities.
Councillor Harpham added:
“We want communities to be safe and secure and for people to feel safe and secure. If we are going to achieve this then we need to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve community cohesion.”
People will see an increase in landlord enforcement activity in Page Hall, with a strong likelihood of increased prosecutions and fines.
If approved by Cabinet on 15 January, the Page Hall Selective Licensing Scheme would come into force on 22 April 2014 and unless revoked beforehand, would remain in force for a period of five years from that date.
In addition to the Selective Licensing and Voluntary Registration schemes, the Council has also been successful in being awarded £145,000 by the Department for Communities and Local Government ‘rogue landlord’ funding to enforce private rented standards in Page Hall over a two year period.
Councillor Harpham added:
“I am delighted we have managed to secure the additional funding for the area. The £145,000 will allow us to enhance and strengthen our enforcement activity in Page Hall.”