South Tyneside landlords have slammed their council’s new selective licensing scheme, labelling it a money-making exercise that’s unaffordable and unfair.

The scheme – approved in November and set to launch in April – will apply to about 3,000 privately-rented properties in Beach Road and its surrounding streets and the Long Streets area – and will cost £550 per property every five years.

Colin Campbell, chair of the borough’s Landlords’ Association (pictured), says it’s a money-making exercise that will effectively penalise landlords who already abide by the rules.

He believes rogue landlords won’t identify themselves as renting out properties, thereby dodging the fees and undermining the scheme.

Adds Campbell: “Selective licensing is bringing good landlords down for no reason – it’s bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake.”

During a consultation earlier this year, South Tyneside Council received 49 responses including 25 objections from landlords.

According to a council report, several landlords expressed serious reservations about the move during consultation, with many feeling the fee was “unaffordable and unfair”.

However, it insists the scheme will drive up housing standards while providing extra support for landlords and says it will be self-financing and non profit-making.

Area decline

A spokesman explains: “The private rented sector plays an important role in South Tyneside’s housing market, but some areas present challenges where properties have been subject to neglect, leading to increased anti-social behaviour, general area decline and a high turnover of tenancies.

“The introduction of selective licensing in these areas provides the council with an opportunity to drive up standards and reduce turnover in some of the worst privately-rented accommodation.

“Officers will be proactive in identifying tenanted accommodation and engaging with landlords to pursue payment throughout the period of the scheme.”

The National Residential Landlords Association had warned that South Tyneside’s plan to include a condition to check up on properties’ electrical safety as part of the scheme was potentially unlawful, following a Court of Appeal judgement. However, the council promised to remove any unlawful conditions.

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