Response to selective licensing scheme reform

30/4/13- Hastings Town Hall ENGSUS00120130430155142
30/4/13- Hastings Town Hall ENGSUS00120130430155142

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) says the Government’s announcement to reform Selective Licensing in the private rented sector will not dissuade them from going ahead with a meeting on March 30 when a final decision on implementing the scheme locally will be made.

The Selective Licensing Scheme (SLS) that HBC is considering would operate in up to 10 wards: Braybrooke, Castle, Central St Leonards, Gensing, Maze Hill, Old Hastings, Ore, Silverhill, Tressell, and West St Leonards.

If passed, private landlords, will be faced with paying a fee to the council of around £415 for each property they rent out.

HBC claims that Hastings has a higher number of privately rented homes than the national average and that higher levels of anti-social behaviour are a feature where higher densities of private renting exist within the town.

Despite last week’s announcement from the Minister of State for Housing detailing plans to reform the system of selected licensing and that local authorities would now have to seek confirmation from the Secretary of State for any SLS that would affect more than 20 per cent of privately rented homes, HBC says there are other areas for consideration.

A spokesman for HBC said: “The housing minister’s letter also includes additional criteria for agreeing selective licensing - poor housing conditions, deprivation and large amount of privately rented accommodation. Hastings may fit those additional criteria very well. We are looking at all the implications of this as well as weighing up the results of the consultation on our current proposed licensing scheme and the cabinet will make a decision on March 30.”

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd said it was disappointing that HBC had still failed to provide her, or her constituents, a break-down of its estimate of the licence fee of £415, adding: “I continue to press the council and am getting no answers. “Tenants are understandably nervous that this will lead to increased rents. Landlords are being rebuffed from discussing constructive alternatives. I urge HBC to reconsider the costs and scale of this proposed scheme. The Secretary of State’s new guidance should be considered. I hope that HBC will not rush through its hastily assembled proposal in order to avoid the proper scrutiny that would be more appropriate.”