More landlords may be required to obtain license
Wirral Council is set to take action against rogue landlords through extending a licensing scheme which forces them to improve their properties – or face seeing them being taken off the market.
Selective Licensing, which requires landlords to agree to a range of conditions around the standards of their accommodation, is being extended through some of Wirral’s more deprived communities, after helping to drive up the quality of rented accommodation in parts of Birkenhead.
The proposal on the table, which the council’s Cabinet will be asked to send through to public consultation at its next meeting on 27th November, is to extend the scheme to cover four more parts of east Wirral, areas where there is a higher than average number of private rented housing available and a high turnover of tenants.
The four new areas proposed are Hamilton Square, Seacombe St Pauls, Birkenhead West and Birkenhead Central. These would join Egerton North, Birkenhead South, Seacombe Library and Egremont Promenade South as Selective Licensing areas.
Cllr George Davies, Wirral Council Cabinet member for Housing and Community Safety, said: “Wirral residents demand – and deserve – to live in good quality, safe and attractive housing. The availability of private rented accommodation has more than doubled in Wirral in the last 10 years and while we know that many of these properties are of an excellent standard, managed by responsible landlords, there are others that aren’t up to scratch.
“We will not tolerate Wirral residents being forced to live in poor conditions by irresponsible landlords. This licensing scheme is a good way for us to tackle this issue and, where a landlord does not live up to their responsibilities to their tenants, we will not hesitate to take action against them.
“Our Selective Licensing scheme supports improvement in the quality of housing in the areas of Birkenhead and Wallasey where it is applied. It has brought many social and health benefits along with it and people from across the political spectrum have rightly highlighted its success and championed it for their own area, calling for its expansion.
“This is where the council needs to step in and use all the powers that we have to drive up the standards of this housing on behalf of tenants and this is what we are aiming to do by extending the Selective Licensing scheme.”
A number of landlords living in the four existing areas, who have either failed to obtain licenses for their properties or fallen foul of the conditions they agreed to, have already been prosecuted by the council, which demonstrates the commitment the local authority has to the scheme and its objectives.
If Cabinet approves the business case and consultation plan, the next step is for the council to begin a 10-week consultation process to gather the views of tenants, landlords and residents before making a final decision.