Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Selective Licensing of Private Landlords in Hyndburn

It's been a campaign that has lasted 7 long years. Before the ink had dried on the 2004 Housing Act allowing local authorities to selectively licence private landlords, I and residents in Woodnook and Peel began to campaign for change.

To establish some form of system where not just the bad landlords had to conform to some form public justice but where minimum standards were in place to protect tenants and to begin a dialogue whereby landlords could be assisted into improving their housing.

The reality is many homes are not fit to live in. A hidden crises unless you are unfortunately affected. Where to often profits come before people.

There's been ups and downs. The local Conservative Council were lukewarm about it but bowing to public pressure brought forward a token scheme which ultimately lost a judicial review to hard core landlords out to defend their interests whilst costing the Council £000,000's in legal fees.

Now finally at last a Labour Council has brought in a scheme. Not as big but still probably the biggest in the UK so far, Newham Council pending. Much credit must go to Councillor Clare Pritchard for her determination and resolution. Landlords have until the 1st December to register or face a maximum fine of £20,000.

Here is the Council's advisory letter;

Dear Resident / Business 
You may recall in late January / early February we sent you some information regarding the
Council’s proposals to introduce a licensing scheme for landlords in parts of Accrington and
I now write to inform you that the Council has decided to declare a licensing area (see
reverse of this letter). 
This will affect all landlords and private tenants in parts of the following areas:
Barnfield (Woodnook area, Midland Street and Beech Street area)
Church (Church Kirk area) Peel (from Railway line to Burnley Road, from Water Street to Plantation Street) Spring Hill (Spring Street and surrounding streets, Charter Street / Craven Street triangle) West Accrington (from Portland Street to the boundary of Church) 
A definitive map of the areas included can be viewed at 20 Cannon Street, Accrington or on
the Council’s website www.hyndburnbc.gov.uk/selectivelicensing. 
With effect from 1st December 2012 all landlords renting out property within the Area will be
required to have a licence. 
If you are a landlord or tenant within the Area, and would like to know more about how this
will affect you, please contact the Council’s Private Rented Team as soon as possible at the
following address:- 
Private Rented Team
20 Cannon Street, Accington
Telephone: 01254 380125
Email: strat@hyndburnbc.gov.uk

The Borough of Hyndburn Designation of an Area for Selective
Licensing No. 1 2012
Housing Act 2004, sections 80 - 82 
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on 1st August 2012 Hyndburn Borough Council (“the Council”) acting as local housing authority in exercise of its powers under sections 80 - 82 Housing Act 2004 designated parts of Accrington and Church, (“the Area”) for selective licensing. The designation will come into force on 1st December 2012. 
The designation does not require confirmation by the Secretary of State and falls within a general approval issued by the Secretary of State under section 82 of the Act, namely the Housing Act 2004: 
Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Selective Licensing of Other Residential
Accommodation (England) General Approval 2010. 
The designation Area covers parts of Barnfield, Church, Peel, Spring Hill, and West Accrington a map of which accompanies the designation. The designation may be inspected at the Council’s offices at 20 Cannon Street, Accrington, BB5 1NJ during the hours of 09:00 – 16:45 Monday to Friday (telephone 01254 380125). Alternatively the designation can be viewed on the Councils website at www.hyndburnbc.gov.uk/selectivelicensing. 
Any private landlord, person managing, or tenant within the designated Area is advised to seek advice from the Council on whether their property is affected by the designation.
Private landlords and persons managing houses in the Area are required to apply for a licence by 1st December 2012. 
From 1st December 2012, unless a notification in relation to a temporary exemption or an application for a licence is effective, any person, who, without reasonable excuse, has control of or manages a house in the Area which is required to be licensed but is not will be guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding £20,000. Additionally, application may be made for a rent repayment order requiring the repayment of rent or housing benefit and no Notice under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (recovery of procession on termination of a shorthold tenancy) may be given in relation to the whole of or part of the unlicensed house.
Landlords, persons managing houses or tenants requiring further information or advice regarding this designation, or wishing to apply for a licence should contact the Council’s Private Rented Team by telephone on 01254 380125,
online at  www.hyndburnbc.gov.uk/selectivelicensing,
by email: strat@hyndburnbc.gov.uk,
or in writing / in person at Private Rented Team, 20 Cannon Street, Accrington, BB5 INJ . 
Note applications will be available from 1st September 2012.
Dated: 3rd August 2012
Jane Ellis, Executive Director (Legal and Democratic Services)