Licence gripe by town landlords

LANDLORDS in town have criticised a proposal by the council to make them pay for a licence so they can provide accommodation to tenants.

Hastings Borough Council says it wants to clamp down on poor quality private accommodation in certain areas of town like central St Leonards but landlords said it could lead to tenants having to pay higher rents.

The proposal applies to those letting property that has three or more unrelated people sharing accommodation, and the licence is expected to cost around £1,000 per year.

Tony Richard, East Sussex representative for the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “This is precisely the wrong policy at the wrong time. Councils already have a large toolbox of powers with which they can tackle the small but conspicuous minority of bad landlords.

“At a time when the Government has withdrawn the entitlement to one-bed self-contained accommodation for Local Housing Allowance (LHA) claimants under 35, it is clear that the local need for small shared housing is going to increase very substantially.

“Schemes that simply label problem areas and impose costs and bureaucracy can only discourage landlords and investors from providing the accommodation that is needed.”

He said the council already had an additional licensing option available for the last five years but had chosen not to use it until now.

Mr Richard said: “At a time of significant financial cuts it is proposing to bring forward the scheme at the expense of local landlords. Most will undoubtedly have to pass these costs on in increased rents.”

The council is currently carrying out a consultation with landlords and tenants.

The licensing scheme would operate in central St Leonards, Gensing, Braybrooke, and Castle wards.

Council leader Jeremy Birch said most landlords and residents were ‘overwhelmingly’ in favour of the authority’s stance.

He said: “This will give us greater power to make sure there is better quality accommodation. There are a lot more Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Hastings than in many other towns.

“Many of the large buildings in the town centre do not lend themselves anymore to single occupancy and have therefore been turned into bedsits and flats.

“We have a duty to make sure people have got the best conditions in that type of accommodation.”