Leeds selective licensing scheme for Beeston and Harehills - last chance to have your say

The deadline is approaching for Leeds residents to have their say on a scheme which would aim to improve the management of privately rented homes in some areas of the city.

Housing in Leeds.
Housing in Leeds.

Leeds City Council’s public consultation on proposals for a selective licensing policy in parts of Harehills and Beeston ends today.

The schemes give councils greater powers to deal with problem landlords and to help improve the way private rented housing is managed, in an effort to make sure that tenants can have safe and comfortable homes.

In affected areas, landlords would need to provide gas and electrical safety certificates, keep fire alarms in working order and ensure furniture at their property is safe.

But one letting agency in Harehills is concerned that the costs of licences would put landlords off, leading them to sell up and reduce the number of private homes in the areas.

Kathy Egan, office manager at Foxkirk Estates, said: “Owners are going to say ‘I can’t afford it no more’. A lot of them are just going to sell up and there’s not going to be anywhere for people to live.”

She said it will “of course” lead to homelessness.

The licence fee would be proposed in most cases to be £825 per property and cover a five-year period, which broken down represents £165 a year, or £3.20 a week.

The price only covers the cost of the scheme and cannot be used to fund other council services.

Landlords who let a property without having a licence would be committing an offence and could face a penalty of up to £30,000.

Miss Egan also says that new tenants of properties which are subject to a licence would need two references to sign up – causing problems for those who have migrated to the UK and have few formal contacts.

If approved, it is likely that any selective licensing scheme would start in autumn 2019.

Some properties would be exempt, but Under the Housing Act 2004, local authorities have powers to the introduce selective licensing of privately rented homes to address problems caused by low housing demand and/or significant anti-social behaviour.

Additional criteria is now in force, and they can also be used to combat problems in an area experiencing poor property conditions, an influx of migration, a high level of deprivation or high levels of crime.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “The aim of any scheme, combined with other initiatives, is to improve the areas for all who live, work, play and visit there.

"Over the last three months the council has undertaken consultation on the selective licensing proposal which has given everyone the chance to have their say and has resulted in a significant response being received.

"Once the consultation has closed the council will analyse those responses, and in line with government guidance will determine whether or not it is appropriate to proceed.”

View the consultation and affected streets at www.leeds.gov.uk/business/privately-rented-property/selective-licensing