14 November 2017

A 13 week consultation is soon to start on a new landlord licensing scheme to improve the safety and standard of privately rented homes and how they are managed.

Sheffield City Council is proposing a selective licensing scheme for sections of London Road, Abbeydale Road and Chesterfield Road after inspections found three in four rented properties in the area had high risk hazards. These were putting tenants at risk by exposing them to serious harm such as fire, falls, excess cold and damp and mould.

The council will be asking local landlords, tenants, residents and businesses about what they think to the proposal and the extent of the issues. This will inform the proposed scheme which covers around 1,000 homes in a four mile stretch.

Surveys are being sent to more than 9,000 properties in the area and nine public events are being held. The consultation starts on Monday, 27 November and ends on 23 February 2018.

The feedback will be used to inform a recommendation put to the council’s Cabinet next summer.
Councillor Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety, said: “We have serious concerns about the safety of some rented properties along London Road and parts of Abbeydale and Chesterfield Road.

“Concerns raised by tenants, along with our findings, lead us to believe a licensing scheme is needed to improve safety. But we want landlords to show us if this is not the case, and we want tenants, residents and businesses to tell us about their experiences. Our goal is for all the private rented properties in this area to be safe, in good condition and well managed.”

The council’s proposal has been informed by housing inspections carried out by officers in the private housing standards team since October 2015.

Seventy seven properties were visited and 58 inspected – 43 of which were found to contain serious safety hazards.

Flats above shops have been the main cause for concern as they are often above restaurants and takeaways, with issues around fire safety and means of escape. Other problems found included

  • Poor conditions and neglect
  • Illegal and dangerous flat conversions
  • Subletting and overcrowding
  • Piles of rubbish
  • Bad landlord and letting agent practices

Government rules stipulate that councils are not allowed to make any money from licensing schemes, but that landlords can be charged a licence fee.

Sheffield City Council is proposing a cost of around £1,000 for a five year licence but this may change depending on the consultation findings.

Councillor Dunn added: “I appreciate that a licensing scheme means extra costs for landlords, and often extra costs where properties are brought up to standard. But these are tenant’s lives we’re talking about here. And their safety is vital and something which cannot be compromised.”

People can also have their say online at www.sheffield.gov.uk/selective-licensing-scheme from Monday, 27 November.

Speak to a Private Housing Standards officer and find out more at an event:

1. Wednesday 6th December, 10am – 12noon, St Oswalds Church on Bannerdale Road (general drop in)
2. Thursday 14th December, 6pm-9pm, St Mary’s Church on Bramall Lane (presentations and talks for landlords, letting agents and tenants)
3. Tuesday 19th December, 6pm – 8pm, Chinese Community Centre on London Road (general drop in)
4. Wednesday 10th January, 6pm-9pm, Abbeydale Picture House on Abbeydale Road (presentations and talks for landlords, letting agents and tenants)
5. Wednesday 17th January, 2pm-4pm, Meersbrook Park United Reform Church on Chesterfield Road (general drop in)
6. Tuesday 23rd January, 4pm-6pm, Dalton Court Community Centre off Abbeydale Road (general drop in)
7. Wednesday 31st January, 6pm-9pm, St Pauls Church on Norton Lees Lane (presentations and talks for landlords, letting agents and tenants)
8. Tuesday 6th February, 10am-12 noon, Heeley Institute on Gleadless Road (general drop in)
9. Wednesday 14th February, 3pm-5pm, Highfield Trinity Church on Holland Place (general drop in)

About the area:

Approximately 59 per cent of residential properties in the proposed licensing area are privately rented, which is much higher than the national average of 20 per cent.

Since 2014, the council has prosecuted 23 landlords and letting agents for housing offences in 40 properties in the area. It has also ruled nine landlords are not ‘fit and proper’ but under existing national rules, the council is unable to stop them practising.

This changes under selective licensing as councils are able to withhold licences from people who have previously been convicted for housing offences and those who fail a ‘fit and proper’ landlord test.

Selective licensing in Page Hall
The council already runs a selective licensing scheme in Page Hall which started in April 2014 and runs until 21 April 2019.

It includes the following addresses:

  • Page Hall Road (53 to 135 and 52 to 118)
  • Hinde House Lane (31 to 125 and 34 to 102)
  • Hinde Street (all properties)
  • Popple Street (all properties)
  • Robey Street (all properties)
  • Lloyd Street (all properties)
  • Wade Street (all properties)
  • Lauder Street (all properties)
  • Willoughby Street (all properties)

There are around 305 privately rented homes included in the scheme.
Landlords and letting agents have invested more than £1m in the properties since it was introduced and Category 1 defects (serious hazards) have been resolved in 293 properties in the selective licensing area.