Just over 7 weeks after the Labour Administration in Brighton & Hove trumpeted the fact a new ‘Selective Licensing Scheme’ for private rented homes had been given the go ahead by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government – they have been stripped of this status.
Residents Let Down
The Selective Licensing Scheme was due to be introduced early next year, for all private rented homes not currently covered by mandatory or additional licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), in the following wards:
- St Peters & North Laine
- Moulsecoomb & Bevendean
- Hollingdean & Stanmer
- Queens Park
- Hanover & Elm Grove
- Brunswick & Adelaide
- East Brighton
- South Portslade
- Central Hove
- Preston Park
Labour Incompetence Leaves Tenants Vulnerable
The scheme should have been introduced from 4 February 2019 and would have protected tenants in around 27,000 properties. The scheme was approved by the council’s Housing & New Homes Committee on 15 November 2017 following a consultation the previous summer. The consultation had 804 responses with 81% in favour. The Secretary of State approved the scheme on the grounds of improving housing conditions in the city.
Significant Benefits Lost Due To Labour Mismanagement
The introduction of further licensing in the city aimed to improve management and housing conditions across the private rented sector. The benefits would have included:
- Responsible landlords gaining from improved clarity about their role in raising property and tenancy management standards while action is taken to tackle those who flout their legal responsibilities.
- Tenants would be clear on what standards they can expect in the homes they rent and the landlords they rent from, with minimum standards resulting in better managed, quality and safer homes.
- Communities would benefit from a consistent approach towards proactively assessing and improving housing conditions across the areas.
90% of Properties Won’t Be Fit & Safe For Occupation
Evidence from current HMO licensing in Brighton & Hove shows that almost 90% of properties required improvements to ensure they were fit and safe for occupation.
The Conservative spokesperson for Housing in Brighton and Hove, Cllr Mary Mears, said “As the Conservative Group Spokesperson on the Housing Committee I found it shocking that I had to read in The Argus about this minority Labour Administration being removed from the National licencing scheme – this surely highlights the dysfunctional chaos surrounding Labour’s leadership. The most serious consequence of this is the devastating impact it could potentially have on some of Brighton and Hove’s most vulnerable residents. In our city we know that we have some very good landlords, who take their duty of care seriously and protect their tenants; however we do know that there are other landlords in the city who are letting properties that are not fit and safe for occupation. Without membership of this licencing scheme the council has less control over rouge landlords”
“Just how far does Labour’s record of incompetence and waste need to go before we start to see the resignation of Labour Chairs of Committees, or even the Labour Leader of the Council. The Labour Administration is imploding before our very eyes.”
“I am not surprised but very disappointed. During the past 3.5 years I have seen this Labour Administration waste Brighton & Hove Council Tax payers’ money on vanity projects and ignore our plea to help the most vulnerable. This will affect so many residents and cause some real risks of people living in below standard housing which will affect their physical and mental health. Labour need to explain why they are continually failing the City by their lack of Duty of Care.”