Rochdale Council have recently consulted to renew their failed licensing scheme,despite warnings from the Residential Landlords Association that it isn’t cracking down on the crooks.
Rochdale Council operated the additional licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) for 10 years.
The scheme was allowed to lapse early last year, but although the local authority admits the scheme wasn’t working and it still doesn’t know the total number of PRS homes in the area – specifically how many are operating illegally – it wants to bring it back.
Under the plans the council will charge landlords £839 per licence plus £49 per habitable room in what it claims is a bid to improve standards in the private rented sector.
In addition to paying a fee a landlord must agree to a range of conditions including the maintenance of gas and electricity installations and appliances, a commitment to maintain the property and a to tackle any repair issues and anti-social behaviour.
However, the RLA says such schemes don’t serve to improve the sector as a whole – penalising good landlords who comply with the new rules and pay for the expensive licences, while the criminals ignore the scheme and continue to operate under the radar.
Tenants are then hit as rents are forced up by landlords’ increased costs.
In consultation documents the council said that, despite ten years of licensing, problems within the private rented sector are still there.
It said: “It remains difficult to access data about the private rented sector” and admits there is a “dark or hidden side of the rental market in Rochdale where there is a growing number of poor quality landlords offering very poor quality and often illegal properties for rent”.
There is also an admission that the local authority has allowed a “common theme” to occur where vulnerable overseas students and low paid migrant workers are being abused and forced to live in overcrowded, dangerous housing.
One criminal landlord in Rochdale had 10 men living in a two-bedroom terraced house and was charging them £40 per week each for a mattress on the floor of a dirty, unsafe house.
Alan Ward, chairman for the Residential Landlords Association said: “These operators are not ‘rogue landlords’ they are criminals and Rochdale Council is failing in its duty to find and prosecute them.
“Rochdale’s own consultation documents prove that this shambolic licensing scheme was not working and that tenants in the borough were being allowed to live in dangerous conditions.
“Criminal landlords are going to ignore any future licensing scheme and continue to operate under the radar as they have for the last decade. Meanwhile Rochdale Council forces the good landlords to stump up for expensive licences.
“The very existence of these criminals depends on being invisible to the authorities.
“Rochdale needs to scrap these plans and go back to the drawing board to address the very real problems within the PRS in the borough.”
To read more about Rochdale Council’s plans click here.
To read the full details of this licensing scheme’s failures read the original article here.
To keep up to date with news, events, and licensing in Rochdale visit their Local Authority Network page: https://www.rla.org.uk/lanetwork/partner.shtml?rochdale-council