Members of the Portsmouth Labour group are hoping to see a ‘crackdown on poor conditions’ in all privately rented homes – including homes in multiple occupation (HMOs) – by the introduction of mandatory landlord licensing.
Calls for the system were first made in July this year, however, a motion at full council was abandoned as it was ruled its seconder – Councillor Tom Coles – had a conflict of interest due to renting a home.
And during the debate any councillors who were private landlords or tenants also had to leave the chamber – meaning there were only 19 left to consider the scheme.
But Labour councillors are pressing for the debate again, this time with Cllr George Fielding seconding the motion put forward by Cllr Cal Corkery.
For Cllr Corkery it was important the system is considered. He said: ‘People keep telling us they feel not enough is being done to regulate the local private rented sector.
‘We’ve looked at what other councils are doing to crackdown on poor conditions and lacklustre property management and found that landlord licensing has proven an effective tool elsewhere.
‘Tenants and neighbours deserve to know that the local authority is doing all it can to improve their lives and the Labour Group is committed to making that happen.’
Under the licensing rules Portsmouth City Council would have the power to ban rogue landlords from renting out properties again in the future. The system will also require all HMOs to be licensed, as currently only those that house five or more people are affected.
However, vice chairman of the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association, Alwin Oliver, believed licensing was not the best solution. ‘I understand the reasoning but I don’t think it will solve the problem,’ he said.
‘I don’t think tenants should be allowed to live in squalid conditions for months on end when it could be redressed quickly. And by the same token tenants shouldn’t be allowed to build up arrears for a year.
‘I think there’s a long overdue reform of the court system needed – we need a dedicated court where both landlords and tenants can have issues quickly resolved.
‘There’s a danger with licensing that it’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. You will end up turning landlords to agencies, which means rents go up.’
The motion will be considered for debate at full council on Tuesday, October 15.