Labour in Brighton and Hove have today unveiled radical plans to strengthen tenants’ rights and root out unscrupulous landlords across the City if elected next May. The party has confirmed it will consult on the introduction of licensing regime for all private sector accommodation across the City.
The proposals, based on the successful scheme currently in operation in Newham where over 30,000 licenses have been issued since February 2013, would see landlords pay a small fee for a five year licence to rent their property out. To receive a licence, landlords would have to demonstrate their ability to maintain their property to pre-agreed standards with the Council. Landlords would be required to put in place robust tenancy management arrangements, giving more safeguards and greater protection to tenants across the City.
Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Chaun Wilson, Labour’s Housing Spokesperson said:
"With the largest private rented sector in England outside London, it is only right we look at measures to strengthen tenants rights and protect them from poor quality housing. Building on the proposals previously announced by Ed Miliband this would bring much needed stability and security to those living in the private rented sector and again demonstrates the positive difference electing a Labour Government in 2015 would bring to people living in Brighton and Hove."
If introduced, Labour would look to align the new licensing regime with the existing scheme in operation for HMOs for certain wards in the City, to ensure the same responsibilities are also placed on housing rented out to students.
The Council would have the power to fine landlords who fail to register with the scheme and recover any rents or housing benefits paid while a property was not licensed. In Newham, where the scheme has been operating for the past year, the Council has successfully taken action against over 100 landlords flouting the new rules, curbing anti-social behaviour and crime associated with poor quality accommodation.
- Under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004, Local Authorities are permitted to introduce selective licensing of private accommodation providing certain conditions are met, such as higher levels of anti-social behaviour associated with these properties.
- Brighton and Hove City Council has already used Part 2 of the 2004 Housing Act to introduce a compulsory licensing scheme for smaller HMOs in five wards in the City – Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, St Peter’s and North Laine, Queens Park and Hanover and Elm Grove.
- Emma Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, stated in January that a future Labour Government would make it easier for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes.
- In May, Labour Leader Ed Miliband announced that a future Labour Government would introduce a number of policies to protect tenants in the private rented sector, including longer tenancies and an end to fees put on tenants by letting agents.