Citywide crackdown on rogue landlords not possible
A senior Sheffield councillor says there can’t be a citywide crackdown on rogue landlords because the law won’t allow it.
ACORN Sheffield, a community-based union of tenants and residents, has been campaigning for citywide licensing which would mean that all private rented homes would be inspected to ensure they meet basic standards and landlords would have to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test.
But Coun Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, says currently no council has the power to enact citywide licensing, although MPs are calling for the government to change this legislation.
Jamie Sims, of ACORN Sheffield, says selective licensing schemes have been successfully implemented in Page Hall and on Abbeydale and London Roads.
He said: “In Page Hall landlords carried out £1.2million worth of repairs as a result. Currently the schemes protect several hundred households. If implemented across the city, over 40,000 private rented properties would be protected.”
ACORN collected over 1,000 signatures on a petition calling for citywide licensing and is holding an event with Coun Steinke on April 23 at 7.30pm at Sheffield Quaker Meeting House.
Jamie added: “The council needs to stand up for tenants and not leave them at the mercy of rogue landlords, that’s why we’ll be pushing Coun Steinke to make a real commitment to citywide licensing at our event.”
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But Coun Steinke said while he welcomed ACORN’s efforts, his hands were tied.
“Sadly ACORN seem to be under the impression that the council can do something they are not permitted to do so by law.
“Currently no council has the power to enact city wide licensing. This is why Labour MPs are calling for the government to change this legislation so that local councils have the power to bring in licenses schemes across the whole city – unlike at present where there are very strict statutory rules which mean that rollout can only be confined to certain areas.
“Sheffield Labour councillors are repeatedly on record saying that we want the government to change this legalisation. We believe that selective licensing can play a huge role in tacking on rogue landlords and radically improve the conditions for some private renters.
“In the meantime we are being proactive for the city’s private rented tenants and have made a commitment to publish a charter of tenants’ rights and responsibilities, so that both landlords and tenants know what is expected of them.
“We are committed to helping the city’s private renters. I look forward to next week’s meeting and hope that many private renters attend.”