Landlords sign up to licensing scheme

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HUNDREDS of privately-rented homes in parts of Hendon are now licensed under a council scheme to drive out bad landlords.

The compulsory landlord licensing project, which was introduced in July last year, requires landlords to meet certain criteria before they are licensed to rent out property.

Costing almost £1.1million, the five-year scheme was funded by regeneration project Back On The Map.

It has been welcomed by residents as a crackdown on absentee landlords who give homes to “neighbours from hell” and let their properties become run-down eyesores.

It was introduced in Middle Hendon and the Long Streets after a council report revealed the area was blighted by high levels of crime and antisocial behaviour.

Now council figures have revealed that 70 per cent of properties which need licences are signed up – with 473 applications out of a potential 680 received by last month.

This could leave just a small number of landlords running the risk of legal action and hefty fines.

Work is now ongoing to find out how many of the remaining properties are still being rented.

At the end of April, 217 licences had been granted covering 63 licence holders; 559 homes inspected and improvement orders issued to landlords where needed, with 63 brought up to scratch and 55 empty houses back in use.

Council officials will be reinspecting over the year and legal action will be started against any landlord whose houses do not meet required standards.

Alan Caddick, head of Strategic Housing at Sunderland City Council, said: “We will continue to work hard with landlords and managing agents to improve and maintain standards in the private rented sector, and use all the legislative powers available to bring empty properties back into use wherever we can.

“The Selective Licensing Scheme is a key part of that process in Middle Hendon and the Long Streets and we acknowledge the positive response by the majority of the landlords who have properties in the area and encourage those who have yet to make their application to do so without delay or risk possible prosecution.

“The Selective Licensing Scheme is a five-year scheme and a lot of positive progress has been made in understanding the true extent of the issues in the area.

“We are committed to ensuring that the scheme is a success and that empty homes are brought back into use and issues with absentee landlords are tackled.

“We are extremely pleased with the work of the Selective Licensing Team which we are confident in saying is one of the highest achieving Selective Licensing Teams in the country and we are already being complimented by residents on the improvements they can see in this first year of the programme.”

Nobby Clark, from Hendon, has been a landlord for more than 30 years and has nine licensed properties.

The 65-year-old said landlords often are often unfairly given a negative image.

“Hopefully, it will get rid of the bad landlords.

“Generally speaking, from Land’s End to John O’Groats, landlords have not got a very good name anyhow.

“The assumption is we are all Rachmans, (a notorious London landlord from the 1950s/60s), but it is very rare I have a property empty.

“I personally think the scheme should be rolled out across the country.”

For more information on Selective Licensing, contact the Neighbourhood Management Team at the Community link Shop in Villette Road on tel: 5689316.

@janethejourno