Fenland Council to fight rogue landlords as consultation gets green light - but not everyone is happy about it..
“We have to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people,” was the message from Fenland District Council after its cabinet approved a 10-week consultation for a scheme to clamp-down on rogue landlords in Wisbech.
The cabinet approved the consultation period during a meeting last Thursday with the scheme due to affect around 2,400 homes in seven wards around Wisbech.
Licensing will require all private sector landlords in Clarkson, Kirkgate, Medworth, Octavia Hill, Peckover, Staithe and Waterlees to show that they can manage their properties properly and comply with normal standards.
Licenses will last for five years; with landlords in the area without a license will be liable to prosecution and fines of up to £20,000.
Cabinet member Will Sutton is spearheading the council’s aim to combat poor housing conditions and rogue landlords and to put a stop to overcrowding and the exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.
He said: “All tenants deserve to live in safe, well managed and properly maintained properties. Selective licensing would help protect them, but it would also benefit the whole town.”
However not all Wisbech councillors support the proposals in their current form.
Councillor Steve Tierney shared his view on his blog, saying that he believes that Fenland District Council should “consider the consequences” and that the “public won’t like the outcome” of the scheme.
He wrote: “I can fully appreciate the temptation to just nod this one through, but I’m afraid there are some really big holes in it.
“And there are some ‘supply and demand’ consequences that will almost certainly spring from it. The public won’t like the outcome of the policy anywhere near as much as they like the announcement of it. The applause can turn to condemnation very quickly.
“I’m not saying don’t strengthen your position with a policy like it - I’m saying ‘take some time.’ Consider the consequences. Think it through, get some advice outside of the immediate officers involved and get it right, or you will end up with all the things you are trying to stop multiplied.”
The consultation will begin on Monday February 29, and will be reviewed in June later.
The approval coincides with the news that the council has also secured £44,500 from the Government’s Rogue Landlord Fund.
The funding will provide extra resources to enable the council and its partners to increase the number of property inspections, take on extra case work and make greater use of statutory enforcement powers.