A council’s plans to expand its selective licensing scheme while Coronavirus is wreaking havoc is reckless and could lead to a lack of housing stock, say East Midlands landlords.

Gedling Council in Nottinghamshire has launched a consultation to expand the Netherfield pilot scheme into Colwick, Carlton Hill, Daybrook and Newstead Village.

But only 5% of the 662 properties in the pilot scheme had problems requiring immediate action, according to the council, although 86% of these had hazards that needed work to protect health and safety.

Regional landlord group EMPO believes the consultation is contrary to MHCLG guidance asking local authorities to suspend this kind of activity until the crisis is over.

“Experience in Nottingham shows landlords pass the cost of licensing onto tenants in the form of higher rents,” says its business development director Giles Inman (pictured left).

“This increases tenant financial hardship and unmanageable demand for social housing.”

He says letting agents have reported landlords disposing of good quality housing stock over the last two years as a direct impact of selective licensing.

Local agent David James adds: “We still have client money sat in our client’s account in relation to licensing applications submitted in 2018. How can they justify extending this scheme when they haven’t even processed the 600-odd applications from the last two years?”

EMPO believes that the council already has extensive powers to deal with landlords renting dangerous housing, but council leader John Clarke insists the scheme has raised many renters’ living standards.

He says: “We want to create safer communities for our residents and reduce hardship and inequality and this scheme will help contribute towards that ambition. We also want to reduce anti-social behaviour and fear of crime and we have seen this happen during the pilot scheme in Netherfield.”

The consultation ends in January and, if approved, could be implemented mid-2021 – depending on the Covid situation.

Read our exclusive interview with Giles Inman.

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