A councillor has called for a further landlord licensing scheme in Bristol, as she believes many people in the city are living in poor conditions.
Councillor Carla Denyer, of the Clifton Down ward, believes that a wider licensing scheme would help combat serious rental property hazards in the city, even in affluent areas such as Clifton.
Bristol’s first landlord licensing scheme was introduced in one designated area of Easton last year. It required all private landlords in the area to register with the council and agree to keep their properties in a good condition, as well as allow inspections.
Denyer reports that the scheme has successfully improved 700 private rental properties in the area, as well as resolved 199 serious hazards.
Councillor Calls for Further Landlord Licensing Scheme in Bristol
Earlier this month, the first successful prosecution under the scheme was led by the council, which prosecuted a couple for not obtaining licenses and for not providing housing officers with documentation covering house safety.
The couple, Jagtar and Jagdish Kandola, was ordered to pay more than £38,000 in fines and costs, in a case that they failed to turn up to.
Now, Denyer has joined community housing group Acorn and Bristol’s student union housing representative to call for the scheme to be introduced across the city, particularly in areas with a high student or private tenant population.
A second scheme is currently underway in Eastville and St George, with private landlords having until the end of September to register or face prosecution.
Denyer says: “We want the council to extend landlord licensing to make sure landlords provide minimum standards in other problem areas of the city.
“People may think of Clifton Down as a privileged area, but behind the grand front doors, there are many untold stories of damp, mould and dangerous living conditions. I have met people who pay extortionate rent, yet have daily battles to get their landlord to fix a broken toilet or mend a leaking roof.”
She adds: “We are now calling on the mayor to look at extending the scheme to other areas of the city, following consultation with local communities.”
Acorn has also been campaigning for ethical lettings in Bristol. Its spokesperson, Nick Ballard, believes the licensing scheme us “vital”.
He explains: “Like any business, private rentals must be properly regulated and decent standards ensured.
“Landlord licensing is a vital first step in creating a register of landlords that will allow much-needed oversight. Permitting local authorities to inspect privately rented property as a matter of course will protect tenants from the revenge evictions that too often follow when we complain ourselves. Acorn is committed to the creation of a progressive and fair rental sector, and landlord licensing is a fundamental requirement for this.”
Students will hugely benefit from landlord licensing, claims Stephen Le Fanu, the Student Living Officer from Bristol Students’ Union, who is also a member of the Acorn student group at the University of Bristol.
“Our recent student housing survey showed that both University of Bristol and University of West of England students are frequently having to live in poor conditions and are charged rip-off fees,” he says.
“This is simply not acceptable. We have formed a group of students from across the city to tackle together some of the problems that students are individually facing and want to invite all those interested to get involved.”
Landlords, what do you think about the new proposals?