Licensing scheme could tackle rogue landlords

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Rogue landlords could soon be put out of business under a potential new licensing scheme.

Fenland District Council is considering implementing a selective licensing scheme for seven wards in Wisbech in a bid to crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour.

Owners of 2,400 rented properties in Wisbech could be required to show that they manage their properties effectively or face the threat of a £20,000 fine if they operate without a licence.

The aim of the scheme is to drive out rogue landlords, improve housing conditions, along with putting a stop to the exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.

Members of the council’s cabinet will be asked tomorrow to approve a 10-week consultation, which could run from February to May, on the proposal.

Cllr David Oliver, cabinet member for community safety, said: “All the evidence shows that improved standards in the private rented sector would have a knock-on effect in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. Everyone stands to gain from this scheme.”

The five-year licence, which costs £575 for a single household or £750 for a house of multiple occupancy, places an onus on landlords to show they have safety measures in place and can manage nuisance tenants.

The seven wards that make up the proposed designated area are Clarkson, Kirkgate, Medworth, Octavia Hill, Peckover, Staithe and Waterlees Village.

Operation Pheasant, which was launched in 2012, provides clear evidence that links problems in private rented housing with crime and anti-social behaviour.

The move would be supported by the police, who feel it would provide a “important preventative tool” and allow them to visit the properties in Wisbech.

Cllr Will Sutton, cabinet member responsible housing, said: “All tenants deserve to live in safe, well managed and properly maintained properties.

“Selective licensing would help protect them, but it would also benefit the whole town.

“This is a major issue, so this proposed consultation is very important. We want to hear the views of as many people as possible – landlords, tenants and the wider community.”