Portsmouth landlord licences could be required for student homes

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LANDLORDS of student homes in Portsmouth could be forced to apply for licences under a city council crackdown on nuisance neighbours.

Lib Dem leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said they could be charged a small fee and their homes undergo regular inspections in order to receive a licence.

It comes as the council tries to limit the spread of shared houses, often occupied by students, because it believes they are damaging community spirit in the city.

Now it wants to ensure landlords are maintaining their properties properly and dealing with any anti-social behaviour.

If such a scheme was introduced the council would be among the first in the country to adopt it.

But the council’s Conservative group, while welcoming the drive to deal with houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs), said the proposals were a step too far.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘At the moment we have the power to license any house where there are five or more individuals. Soon we will be gaining a new power to licence anywhere where there are three or more unrelated individuals.

‘We won’t do the whole city, we will probably stick mainly to the areas where the most HMOs are, like Fratton and Southsea.

‘Some landlords are just not looking after their properties and letting them fall into disrepair. We want to make sure we drive up the standard of rented accommodation so bad landlords can’t get away with it.’

Conservative housing spokesman Cllr Steve Wemyss said the council’s drive to clamp down on shared houses was 20 years too late.

He said: ‘Most of Southsea has already been blighted by too many student houses in the same street. There are some roads where there are only two or three families left.

‘And with the best will in the world students are a transitory group who often have no community spirit as a consequence.’

He added that he was not sure a tougher licensing system would be a good idea.

‘It is becoming too much like a nanny state,’ he said. ‘Such a measure would be too intrusive. There are a lot of unanswered questions and there would be a lot of problems with it.’

In a statement the University of Portsmouth’s Students’ Union said: ‘We understand and note some of the negative perceptions of students within Portsmouth, and acknowledge that in some instances there are issues that do arise and need to be addressed.

‘However, the community benefits greatly from students. Just a few examples of this are the various community volunteering projects, such as the intergenerational projects and beach cleans.’