Fenland Council will not bring in selective licensing scheme to tackle rogue landlords in Wisbech - but investigations will continue

This HMO in Wisbech was advertised as producing £46800 in gross rent per annum and a 'very healthy'

This HMO in Wisbech was advertised as producing £46800 in gross rent per annum and a 'very healthy' 21 per cent ROI on cash in deal. It was up for sale for £325,000 last year. Credit: My Property Sourcer - Credit: Archant

Council bosses say ‘more resources’ are needed to tackle problems with rogue landlords in Wisbech – despite dismissing plans to introduce a selective licensing scheme.

A back bench revolt forced Fenland Council to abandon its plan to bring in tough new policies to crack down on problems last January.

Officers said that they needed to ‘review evidence to decide the best way forward’ after issues with privately rented housing and the crime and antisocial behaviour closely linked to them.

But a task group set up to discuss housing at next week’s cabinet meeting, say that selective licensing would not be the ‘most effective course of action at this time’.

Instead it was discovered that the council could raise income to support additional enforcement and secure funding for additional staffing resource for two years through the Controlling Migration Fund.

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These officers could then test the potential and impact of these new powers.

A report also revealed that there had been an increase in houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in Wisbech due to landlords from London buying up properties to rent.

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A ‘recent influx’ of Romanians and Bulgarians were also identified as being at ‘greater risk to exploitation’ as most do not speak English.

The task group report stated: “From the evidence received the task group concluded there were problems and that more resources were needed to tackle issues in the sector.

“The task group were not in agreement that implementing a discretionary Selective Licensing scheme would be the most effective course of action at this time.

“The task group wanted to give opportunity to landlords to support the council in delivering an alternative approach to tackling the problems identified, before Selective Licensing powers should be considered further.”

Other problems that were highlighted included improving the property register of private rented properties, increasing the resources available to check compliance against existing legislation and improving the condition of private rented properties.

If selective licensing had been enforced it would have seen landlords required to buy five year licences for £575 – more for those in multiple occupation- and be able to show they were ‘fit and proper’ persons to rent out property.

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