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Durham landlords propose alternative licensing scheme

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

A group of landlords in Durham are urging other private landlords with properties in the county to sign up to an alternative to the council’s proposed selective licensing Scheme.

Durham County Council is proposing to introduce a large selective licensing scheme, covering approximately 51,000 private rented properties.

If the plans are approved, landlords with rental properties within the designated areas of the scheme will be required to pay up to £590 per property to obtain a licence, in order to carry on letting the property lawfully.

Alternative licensing scheme

However, some landlords in the county, supported by the NRLA and local landlord associations, have come together to oppose the council’s proposals and have put forward an alternative voluntary scheme for landlords to sign up to.

Durham PLuSS (which stands for private landlords supporting standards) is encouraging landlords across the county to join them in supporting the alternative scheme, which would involve a partnership between the council and landlords, designed to improve the standards of rented properties in County Durham.

It would be a co-regulation scheme, allowing good landlords to work with the council in a self regulated scheme which deals with standards and complaints, whilst non-member landlords continue under the scope of local authority enforcement.

The group have been inspired by landlords in Stockton, who were given permission last year to operate a similar collaborative licensing scheme with Stockton Borough Council.

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council had intended to introduce a scheme that would have made it requirement for landlords in the designated areas pay £845 per rental property for a licence. However the council backed down and put the plans on hold, granting permission for the alternative voluntary licensing scheme to go ahead.

Commenting, Suzy Chivers, landlord and Chair of Durham PLuSS said:

 “Durham Council are proposing a selective licensing scheme that is currently in public consultation until 24 May 2020, despite the current COVID-19 recommendations.  Because of our concerns over the proposal we had approached the council at the end of 2019 with an alternative which we feel will achieve the same objectives. 

“The good, law abiding landlords will be forced to pay a significant fee to obtain a licence to rent out each of their properties (which could mean rental increases for tenants), whilst the bad landlords will ignore the scheme and continue to flout the law to the detriment of tenants and/or neighbourhoods.

“We believe the Durham PLuSS proposal, which would be a collaborative scheme with the council, is a better way forward.  Currently more than 400 landlords, accounting for over 5,000 rental properties, have come on board with us and we would encourage other landlords with rental properties across Durham Council area to sign up.  There are no costs involved to sign up and we aim to keep landlords informed as the proposal progresses.”

Gavin Dick, NRLA Local Authority Policy Officer said:

“The NRLA will be making a formal response to this consultation and we would encourage private landlords in Durham to do the same and to support the alternative scheme put forward by the landlords at Durham PLuSS”.

More information about the consultation

The proposed licensing scheme in Durham would cover two thirds of the county but take in 90% of all the private rented properties. A consultation on the plan was launched earlier this year.

It was extended due to Covid-19 to run until 24th May, however the council has now extended this deadline again to 2nd August 2020. Landlords can read more about the council’s plans here and can join Durham PLuSS by clicking here.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

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