Portsmouth council debate on rogue landlords could be scrapped due to 'silly error'
A BID to impose tougher penalties on 'rogue' landlords has sparked a council row after the authority's legal team warned half of all councillors could not be involved in debating the plan.
Portsmouth City Council's legal team said councillors who are either private landlords or tenants would have a conflict of interest if a motion to introduce licensing for private landlords in the city is heard as planned on Tuesday.
But Labour members said they will still push for the motion to be put forward.
Charles Dickens councillor Cal Corkery proposed the motion and was seconded by Cllr Tom Coles, who privately rents a home.
Cllr Corkery said: 'We will still try to have it heard, either by taking alternative advice or seeing if the council will allow us to change the seconder.
'Many councillors are either going to be landlords or tenants who rent privately. I understand why landlords cannot vote on the motion because they have a financial interest, but for tenants it's more about ensuring their rights are upheld.
'This is so important. When we go out and about campaigning it's one issue that's brought up time and time again, how some tenants are being mistreated by landlords.'
But Tory group leader Cllr Donna Jones, who is a landlord, said the situation was created by a 'silly error' on Labour's part. She said: 'From our calculations more than 15 councillors would have to declare an interest and leave the chamber.
'This is a basic rule of the standing orders and a silly error for the Labour group to have made.'
Vice chairman of the Portsmouth and District Private Landlords' Association, Alwin Oliver, who lets out homes in Southsea, said: 'Although I was against the motion it does strike me as a very narrow reading of the rules, I can't see how a private tenant can have a financial interest.
'Even though I don't agree with everything in the motion I wanted to see it debated because we are in need of housing reforms and this is something the PDPLA would like to work with the council on.
Full council will take place at 2pm tomorrow at Portsmouth Guildhall.