Five months on from responding to Oldham Council’s consultation on a new Selective Licensing scheme for borough, Shaw Liberal Democrat Councillor Howard Sykes MBE is frustrated both by the pace of change, with seemingly little action being taken to implement new standards to police the conduct of both private-sector landlords and tenants, and by the lack of sense in the proposals, with certain streets in need of regulation still being excluded.
Councillor Sykes first wrote to the Head of Public Protection, Neil Crabtree, who leads the Council’s project team, on 10 February seeking an update on progress and clarification on whether his ideas for improvements to the scheme in Shaw will be taken up. A response despite reminders is still not forthcoming.
Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Sykes said: “I want to see selective licensing for Shaw sooner rather than later, but it needs to cover the right areas where problems have arisen in the past. A good scheme would provide safeguards to good tenants from poor landlords, and vice versa, and it would also provide assurances to the owner-occupiers of adjacent properties that the private-rented properties in their street would be well-managed and maintained, and not be a contributor to blight or a cause of anti-social behaviour.”
Lower housing demand, lower rents and higher tenant turnover can lead to private-rented properties being left empty for long periods or being poorly maintained or managed. Selective licensing requires landlords to properly maintain and manage their properties. Landlords pay the Council a fee to license each property they own in each area, and properties are inspected by the Council before they are licensed.
Councillor Sykes would like the scheme for Shaw expanded to cover a wider area. “Current proposals exclude some streets of terraced properties where homes are let on the private-rental market, such as Tudor Street, which is not in the current scheme yet all the surrounding streets with identical properties are, but includes streets where they have been none of the issues that are sometimes associated with private rental, such as property neglect and anti-social behaviour. This makes no sense. I hope that Council officers can take up the suggestions in my letter of 10 February to redraw the boundary in Shaw”.