New Portsmouth City Council licence ‘will lead to rise in rogue landlords’

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PLANS to licence people who rent out shared homes will lead to a rise in rogue landlords, it has been claimed.

Portsmouth City Council is consulting on a scheme which would require anyone renting a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) containing three or more people to have a licence.

It estimates around 3,500 properties would be affected and landlords would be required to pay between £500 and £700 to be accredited for five years.

To gain a licence they would have to prove they are ‘fit and proper’ people, their properties are fit for purpose, and they can maintain proper standards of safety and hygiene.

But critics have warned the proposals could have unintended consequences, such as reducing the number of landlords and leaving some people with nowhere to live.

Tony Anthill, from the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords Association, said his organisation was worried the policy could actually create more ‘rogue landlords’.

He said: ‘Our greatest concern is that single working professionals, the young and vulnerable are already finding it difficult to find low cost shared accommodation.

‘They are not all anti-social and living in poorly managed properties. Further regulation will increase costs.

‘These may be passed on to the tenants or supply will be further reduced.

‘The end result could be that the good landlords will sell up and invest elsewhere, leaving only the rogues who operate below the radar.’

He also said it could lead to a rise in homelessness.

But Lib Dem cabinet member for housing, Cllr Steven Wylie, said: ‘It is about making sure landlords are adhering to the rules and regulations and trying to make sure there are better tenants and landlords in the city.

‘It would cost a certain amount, but we would be able to offer a discount for landlords who went along with our accreditation.

‘It is about the properties being up to the standard that the city deserves.’

Cllr Wylie said he didn’t agree it could result in a rise in homelessness.

He said some people ‘might as well be homeless’ when you see the conditions they are living in.

‘There is nothing to say it would lead to more homelessness, but it would lead to better homes,’ he added.

Tory group housing spokesman Steve Wemyss said the policy would be a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’.

‘I think it has good intentions,’ he said.

‘But could lead to unintended consequences.

‘And if the houses are really that bad the people won’t stay in them for long, or at least they shouldn’t.

‘It can be self-policing.’