Licensing scheme is unnecessary

As a landlord and a Labour Party supporter I find it puzzling why Hastings Borough Council have decided, in the midst of difficult times to say the least, to introduce a selective licensing scheme in 10 out of 14 wards.

Everyone will need a licence for five years in order to let a property where they do not reside and that is for each property.

For the majority of private landlords this is a clear invitation to increase rents.

It will not make any difference to some other types of property e.g. housing association and so on, so no potential rent rises there thankfully.

The council is using a law passed in 2004 that can enable a local authority to introduce selective licensing to areas where there is inordinate anti-social behaviour that is related to the condition of the housing stock.

The proposal is for 10 out of 14 wards which is most of the area.

This rather begs the question, how was the evidence collated and will it be made public?

I can understand that there may be good reasons for controlling ‘rogue landlords’ but this proposal is being implemented for what should be serious and compelling reasons.

If there were areas of unrest, civil disobedience, frequent and unrelenting anti-social behaviour it may indicate there could be an association between the housing stock and such unlawful behaviour. However, this is not the case. While there are areas that are challenging to the authorities it is no secret that such areas have their own problems through unemployment, lack of opportunity and insufficient resources to change things.

It is a stated government statistic that private tenants are currently spending 40 per cent of their disposable income on rental fees. Is this the right moment to extract more from those, who in most cases are the least able to afford it?

There are Land Valuation Tribunals to settle landlord/tenant disputes, environmental health laws to restrict landlords letting their properties. There are tenancy agreements, deposit protection schemes, fire regulations, strict annual gas requirements and electrical appliance testing.

There is Sussex Police force and community support and Hastings Borough Council wants to licence all private landlords in 10 wards.

Whatever reasons the council cares to invent for introducing this scheme, it is not for the reasons the section of the Housing Act 2004 was created.

This proposal is fatally flawed and needs to be challenged at a Judicial Review if introduced.

If you are a private tenant please support the campaign on as it will be you that will be paying for these unnecessary and divisive licences.

Paul Bowcock

Battle Road

St Leonards