LANDLORDS must sort out their homes or risk having them taken over by the council and their rent spent on repairs.
That’s the warning being sent out today by Portsmouth City Council, as owners of around 3,500 shared properties in the city are being told they must register as part of a new scheme or face prosecution.
It comes as the council says it wants to improve living standards for people in shared housing.
The authority was already regulating larger shared houses, but an additional licensing scheme now covers smaller homes and buildings turned into flats.
It comes as The News revealed huge amounts of rubbish had been dumped at the back of shared properties in Waverley Road, Southsea, recently.
A resident complained he is often confronted by plastic bags full of stinking waste, rotten vegetables and even soiled nappies near his home in the road.
Councillor Darren Sanders, the cabinet member for housing, said: ‘There will be prosecutions and occasions when the council takes over the management of properties that do not come up to scratch.
‘It is my expectation that will happen this year. Good landlords have got nothing to fear.
‘People who live, particularly in shared housing, have the right to live in decent accommodation and to be treated decently.’
Martin Silman, chair of Portsmouth Housing Partnership, had initially criticised the scheme.
But he said he wants the scheme to root out bad landlords and estimates £2m is being spent on getting licences.
He said: ‘There’s no point in having the scheme if you don’t enforce it.
‘The rest of us aren’t going through this pain to give the council something to do. There’s no benefit for anyone unless we get rid of the bad ones.’
The council brought in the scheme after getting complaints about shared houses in the south of the city.
Alice Ibbotson, additional licensing team leader, said: ‘There were a lot of complaints around accumulations of rubbish outside the properties, disrepair from within and anti-social behaviour emanating from the properties themselves.
‘The majority of the properties are student properties but we looked at shared houses as a whole.’
After a consultation, officers are now targeting shared houses in the PO1, PO4 and PO5 areas as they have the highest concentration of shared housing.
Officers have licensed nearly 650 homes, after receiving 2,050 applications from a total of up to 3,500.
And 300 are now on a final reminder to register and may face action.
When they apply, landlords must prove they are best-placed to run the homes and that the property is suitable.
Criteria stretches from having enough toilets to stopping landlords from advertising small rooms as bedrooms.
Landlords have to fork out £650 for a licence with early adopters paying £490.
Any that don’t meet the criteria will be helped by the council to get them up to scratch before enforcement action is taken.