Further steps to protect local communities from rogue landlords and anti-social tenants have been approved. The Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness has allowed the extension of the Selective Licensing Housing Scheme in Blackpool.
Proposals to introduce selective licensing to private housing in the central area of town have been approved by Blackpool Council’s Executive. The plan has now secured Government approval.
The move follows the introduction of additional licensing to that area of town in 2016, as well as the selective licensing scheme already in place in Claremont.
What is the Selective Licensing Housing Scheme?
Selective licensing aims to improve standards in the area by addressing the poor management of some private landlords and the poor property conditions that they offer.
The scheme requires all landlords within the designated area to adhere to strict guidelines around providing a good standard of living conditions. Also effectively managing anti-social behaviour from their tenants and visitors.
The Selective Licensing Housing Scheme allows the council to address the high levels of anti-social behaviour and crime that blights the lives of those who live in the area.
Welcomed by residents
Local residents have already said that they approve of introducing new licensing schemes to housing in central Blackpool in a recent survey.
75% of the 1,340 local residents who responded to the survey said they would like to see Blackpool Council introduce selective licensing to town centre properties in order to address poor living conditions and anti-social behaviour in their community.
88% of respondents said they felt private landlords should be responsible for dealing with their nuisance tenants and anti-social behaviour caused by them.
Which extra areas does it cover?
The central area of town includes three wards: Talbot, Brunswick and the northern half of Bloomfield.
The Selective Licensing Housing Scheme will apply to properties in the designated area which lies between Waterloo Road at the south end, through the central Gateway area bordered by Seasiders Way and Central Drive, encompassing the town centre all the way to Talbot Road at the north end. The area will stretch inland as far as Devonshire Road and Whitegate Drive.
Combating anti-social behaviour
Cllr Christine Wright, Blackpool Council Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Making sure that private rented homes are well managed by landlords is a priority for the council.
“We want to combat anti-social behaviour and improve housing conditions across the town, and this scheme will give the council stronger powers to deal with problematic tenants. It is a scheme that has already been implemented quite successfully across the country.
“We recognise that many landlords provide accommodation far above and beyond the minimum standards required by law in Blackpool but unfortunately, there are many properties that fall below acceptable standards.
“One of the most basic human rights is that everybody deserves a clean and safe area to live and if landlords aren’t delivering that then we won’t hesitate to bring forward enforcement action.
“We hope that this will be a positive move for responsible landlords, as cleaning up the local area should improve the attractiveness of their property and help them to find better tenants.”
Making Blackpool Better
A successful programme to make areas of Blackpool better for people to live in is set to be rolled out to another patch of the town.
Published October 2016
The Transience Programme, which has been working in South Beach and Claremont areas for the last few years, will now be extended to the Central section of Blackpool.
The programme, run by Blackpool Council, works alongside the licensing measures in place on landlords, by providing support to local communities to advise about health, money, benefits and employment support that may be available to them.
The project makes contact with residents and links them into support services and local community activities, training and employment. In this way, underlying issues are addressed and tenants start to develop in their confidence, skills, and sense of responsibility.
This investment in pro-actively identifying and supporting residents is of considerable benefit to tenants themselves, their landlords, and the wider community.
By providing improved local support, the transience programme helps to reduce anti-social behaviour and increase community resilience in neighbourhoods that have previously been cited as problem areas.
Initial contacts with tenants will be made as a part of a comprehensive programme of door to door visits starting in October 2016.
The project in the central area of Blackpool will run over the next two years and is part of a programme across South Beach, Claremont and the Central area that is funded by a total grant from Central Government of £1.5 million over three years.
This new work in the Central area follows the approval of an additional licensing scheme for the area which came into force in July and requires landlords of around 700 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to adhere to strict guidelines around living conditions and have effective procedures in place to deal with anti-social behaviour.
Since selective licensing launched in South Beach in 2012, the programme has helped reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in the area by 15.5%, as well as issuing over 500 schedules of work for landlords to improve their properties and make them safer.
The project expanded to Claremont in 2014 and continues to work in both areas in addition to the new additional licensing scheme in Central.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “There are certain areas of Blackpool where communities aren’t working – living conditions, life expectancy and employment rates are all poor and neighbours have to put up with unacceptable levels of anti-social behaviour on an all too regular basis.
“A lot of these problems stemmed from poor housing conditions, but we also need to work with those communities to help them get their lives back on track.
“Our licensing schemes are leading the way across the country and are recognised by other councils and housing organisations as one of the best methods for improving living conditions.
“But when we introduced the scheme I was very keen that it didn’t work in isolation as just an enforcement tool to tackle bad landlords. We needed to support residents to build some roots in an area and become established and upstanding members of the community.
“The transience project is doing that, having some great successes in South Beach and Claremont, and I’m looking forward to the positive work that it can do in the Central area of town too.”
To find out more about the transience programme in South Beach, Claremont or Central areas of Blackpool, contact 01253 476211.
More About Selective Licensing
Published March 2016
Selective licensing is a regulatory tool that allows local authorities to tackle areas suffering from significant anti-social behaviour or low housing demand by requiring all privately rented homes to be licensed.
The resort has received national acclaim for the work that has taken place via Selective Licensing to improve housing and, as a result, reduce anti-social behaviour in South Beach and elsewhere.
What is ‘Selective Licensing’?
Selective Licensing requires that all privately rented properties in the area have a licence and that landlords show they manage their properties effectively.
This means not only providing a safe and legal standard of housing but also taking responsibility for their tenants behaviour through taking measures like proper referencing before allowing tenants to move in.
This is designed to reduce anti-social behaviour which is often linked to poorly managed properties.
It also helps to identify poor quality and unsafe homes and given the council the opportunity to enforce improvements.
And, through the transience project that runs alongside the scheme which meets residents and helps to identify and assist with things such as identifying mental health, drug and alcohol problems, physical health issues and loneliness, it has helped make a real difference to people’s lives.
As in Claremont, the town centre scheme also includes an Additional Licensing scheme, designed specifically to help tackle dangerous housing conditions in HMOs.
A ‘radical programme of intervention’
The Financial Times called the work, alongside other Blackpool housing measures: “a radical programme of intervention” while The New Statesman also visited town to study the impact it has had on improving poor quality private sector housing.
Housing charity Shelter, meanwhile, has also used Blackpool as a case study when writing a best practice guide to using Selective Licensing for other local authorities.
Schemes are in place in the South Beach and Claremont areas and in July 2016 the schemes was extended to include the Central Area
The new central licensing area stretches from around Blackpool Football Club at the south end, through the central Gateway area bordered by Seasiders Way and Central Drive, encompassing the town centre all the way to Talbot Road at the north end and as far inland as Devonshire Road.
Around 5,760 properties in total fall within the area, of which 2,702 would be subject to Selective Licensing. There are 954 HMOs that would be part of the additional licensing scheme.
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