PRIVATE landlords in Woking might have to get a council licence to operate in a scheme intended to protect vulnerable tenants.
The Landlord’s Licence, which is common in big cities such as London, would be the first of its kind in Surrey.
Woking Borough Council launched a 12-and-a-half-week consultation yesterday (Wednesday) asking residents for their feedback before possibly rolling out the plan in parts of the town centre and Maybury.
Some 42 per cent of the 1,827 homes in those two areas are rented privately and many of these are regarded by officers as being below habitable standard and not meeting the Government’s definition of a ‘decent home’.
The council has successfully taken four private landlords to court under the Housing Act in the past six months. Officials believe that a disproportionate amount of resources are being drawn on to make sure homes are safe and of a reasonable standard in the town centre and Maybury areas, compared with other parts of the borough.
Under the proposed scheme, every private rented property will be inspected during the three-year life of the licence.
Officials believe that accreditation for landlords is necessary to:
- Improve housing conditions
- Deal with landlords breaking the law
- Reduce the exploitation of tenants
- Reduce overcrowding
- Improve the standards and image of neighbourhoods
In September last year, the council launched a Private Landlord Accreditation Scheme in conjunction with the National Landlords’ Association (NLA).
That voluntary scheme is run by the NLA and requires the completion of a foundation course and subsequent continued professional development.
The borough’s Portfolio Holder for Housing Services, Councillor Colin Kemp, told the News & Mail that the proposed licensing scheme would run parallel with the voluntary NLA accreditation.
“The vast majority of landlords are good and this scheme, if implemented, will help us to identify those and then see what we have left and deal with after that.
“The council is committed to creating sustainable communities with rented properties that are safe and in which individuals and families wish to live.
“We are keen to hear people’s views on our plans to introduce a licensing scheme for private landlords. The survey is open for anyone and I would encourage everyone to have their say, whether they’re a landlord, tenant, resident or business owner.”
VISIT www.woking.gov.uk/haveyoursay for more information about the consultation and to download the survey. The canvassing of opinion will run until 30 April. Paper copies of the questionnaire will be made available on request. The consultation is being managed on behalf of the council by an independent market research company.