Landlords fight plans for licensing scheme

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Plans to introduce licences to crack down on irresponsible landlords in a Sheffield suburb came under fire at a packed public meeting.

Landlords at the meeting insisted the planned scheme for the Page Hall area simply would not work – and said similar schemes in Manchester and Leeds had been scrapped.

The proposals would see landlords in the private sector having to apply for licences proving they are ‘fit and proper’ persons.

Sheffield Council members want to see proper reference checks for tenants, up-to-date gas certificates, and clear tenancy agreements.

They believe the behaviour of bad landlords leads to overcrowding, litter and anti-social behaviour.

Kash Walayat, who raised landlords’ concerns at the meeting at Fir Vale School, said the key issue was anti-social behaviour – but this was limited to just a handful of streets.

Kash said: “Licensing is not the answer. The proposed scheme which will cost up to £1,000 and it is full of holes.

“The majority of streets in the area are not a problem – if the council, with all its powers, cannot deal with the situation, then how can landlords?

“It will also have the effect of stigmatising the area, driving insurance premiums up and house values down.

“We say the council needs to use its existing powers to target bad landlords and bad tenants.

“The council is looking to a similar scheme in Salford, but the operating costs there were £240,000 in a year, while Hull drew up plans and then dropped them.”

A steering group consisting of both landlords and tenants is to be set up to discuss the proposals in more detail.

Its first meeting is expected to take place in September.