Report of the Head of Economic Growth and Housing.
The Cabinet considered the report of the Head of Economic Growth and Housing in relation to the proposal to re-designate both the Selective Licensing Scheme and 2 x Additional HMO licensing schemes in designated areas of the borough and introduce the Business case to support the re-designation of the schemes.
The report also detailed the option of a 12-week consultation in relation to the re-designation of the selective licensing scheme and 2 additional HMO licensing schemes.
The Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing emphasised and noted the success of the Selective Licensing Schemes and drew Members attention to the positive impact that the application of the Schemes had on the lives of the most vulnerable residents living in Sefton’s Communities.
Decision Made: That:
(1) the re-designation of the Selective Licensing Scheme in the Bootle area and 2 Additional HMO licensing schemes in central Southport and areas of Waterloo/Seaforth, be approved in principle (subject to public consultation);
(2) a 12-week public consultation for the implementation of the schemes, be agreed;
(3) the Head of Economic Growth and Housing, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, be granted delegated authority to;
(i) Procure and appoint consultants to undertake the required public consultation on the 3 proposed schemes, and
(ii) Agree any minor/technical changes to the Business Case in advance of the formal consultation;
(4) the draft licensing conditions including the associated fees, be approved in principle;
(5) a supplementary revenue estimate of £2,268,565 which will be fully funded by licence fee income, be approved in principle; and
(6) it be noted that a further report will be submitted to Cabinet upon the conclusion of the consultations with recommendations to approve schemes as appropriate
Reasons for the Decisions:
Cabinet authority is required for the re-designation of a Selective and 2 Additional (HMO) Licensing schemes within the Borough. Authority is also required to procure and appoint consultants, carry out a public consultation and to approve in principle the draft licence conditions.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected:
Sefton could choose not to consult on a proposed re-designation of the current housing licensing schemes and revert back to a solely reactive service, responding to complaints, linked with more aggressive promotion of the Landlord Accreditation scheme. This option is unlikely to have significant impact due to Landlord Accreditation being a voluntary scheme, with only the better landlords obtaining accreditation status.
2. Expand the Enforcement Regime
The Council also has a continued reactive enforcement approach in relation to privately rented properties, dealing with cases as they present themselves, generally from complaints from tenants. A more proactive approach could be taken to target the worst landlords. This would develop an outward facing image of enforcement in relation to rogue landlords.
To practically do this would involve the need to increase the resourcing allocated to the Housing Standards Team by a minimum of 4 additional posts. This cost could be up to £210,161 per annum.
This is a more traditional enforcement approach and less of an enabling one than licensing has brought.
3. Introduce a borough wide Selective Licensing Scheme
Officers also considered introducing a district-wide scheme but this was not taken forward because the evidence is not yet sufficient to introduce the whole district and therefore such an application is unlikely to be supported by the Secretary of State (who has to agree to the implementation of the scheme).