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Council seeks views on private rented sector

Fenland District Council is seeking the views of landlords and agents in Wisbech to help shape plans aimed at improving standards in the town's private rented sector.

Advice

The authority is considering the best approach to tackle poor housing conditions and management, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, and improve the quality of life for both tenants and the wider community.

A decision on whether to implement a "selective licensing" scheme has been deferred until a member task group can explore the issues with landlords and agents in greater depth.

Two informal drop-in sessions have been organised to gather views at The Oasis Centre in St Michael's Avenue, Wisbech, on Wednesday, September 13. Agents are invited to come and have their say between 4pm and 5.30pm, and landlords between 6pm and 7.30pm.

Attendees will be asked what they think the issues are, and what their solutions would be.

Task group chairman, Councillor Mike Cornwell, Fenland District Council's portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: "Many landlords provide decent, well-managed and well-maintained accommodation, which does not cause any problems for the local community. There are, however, significant issues within the private rental sector with criminal activity, anti-social behaviour, overcrowded homes, poor property conditions and examples of poor management. These issues have a negative impact on tenants, their neighbours and the whole community.

"The introduction of a selective licensing scheme may go some way to combat these issues through a requirement for landlords to meet a set of basic standards for managing and maintaining private rented homes in Wisbech.

"A decision to implement a scheme has been deferred to enable us to explore the issues in greater depth. The views of landlords and agents are essential for us to consider and understand when we are making recommendations on the way forward."

If a selective licensing scheme was introduced it would most likely cover seven wards - Clarkson, Kirkgate, Medworth, Octavia Hill, Peckover, Staithe and Waterlees Village. It would last for five years and affect an estimated 2,400 properties.

Landlords would have to apply for a licence for each of their properties and show that basic safety checks have been carried out and that they have appropriate management arrangements in place. Failure to apply for a licence would result in enforcement action being taken which could lead to an unlimited fine.

Any landlords and agents unable to make the drop-in sessions are urged to email their views to: privatesectorhousing@fenland.gov.uk by September 13.

Article added September 1, 2017