Private landlords in Beeston Hill have until Monday (6 January 2020) to register for Leeds City Council’s new Selective Licensing Scheme, or face a fine.
The scheme has been introduced to improve the quality of housing. The licence covers issues such as gas and electrical safety, making sure fire alarms are in working order and ensuring that all furniture provided is safe.
Whilst landlords in other parts of the city have signed up to an accreditation scheme which promotes improvement, there is very low take up of the scheme by landlords operating in Beeston Hill.
Landlords have argued vigourously that the scheme will be counter productive. They claim the charge of £825 (for 5 years) will be added to rent as a “Tenants Tax.”
A report to the council’s Executive Board noted that whilst residents commenting in person at the Dewsbury Road Community Hub were largely in favour of the scheme, online responses were more hostile. Analysis revealed that there were multiple responses from single IP addresses, which indicates that they were completed from a single property.
Of the online returns, 121 IP addresses were used to complete 3 or more questionnaires, which accounted for 826 responses out of the total 982 responses from the Beeston residents’ responses. One IP address was responsible for 55 responses.
Tahran Ali, a Holbeck resident and member of the 300 strong Leeds Landlord Unite group campaigning against selective licensing told South Leeds Life:
“The truth about selective licensing is that this is just another tenant tax. Residents of South Leeds overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, though Leeds City Council really did put the “con” in consultation and proceeded anyway.
“The licence is not about improving housing standards, but shall focus on landlords demanding rigourous referencing and having written tenancies. For which Debra Coupar wants a £825 lump sum per property, all upfront before any licence is issued. The upshot of which shall inevitably be more selective tenancies with increased rents to cover those costs.
“This would be far more palatable if the evidence backed up the council’s claims that Beeston is a distinctly problematic neighbourhood. It isnt. Or if there was popular support for this measure. There isnt. Every independent metric showed no support for what shall be a tenant tax, it shall impinge on the prospects of the poorest and most vulnerable tenants in finding new a home. With the only benefit being a £5million windfall for LCC, at the expense of the tenants in Beeston and Harehills.”
The area covered by the scheme is approximately bounded by the M621 motorway, Cross Flatts Park, Dewsbury Road and Garnet Road (see below).
Some properties are exempt including:
- holiday lets
- business premises
- socially let properties
- student accommodation owned by a university
- accommodation where the tenant is a family member
- any property where the landlord already holds an HMO licence
- properties that are empty
Cllr Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said:
“I’d like to encourage all private landlords in the area to make sure they have completed a licence application and paid the first part of the fee by 6 January 2020.”
For more information go to: www.leeds.gov.uk/housing/information-for-landlords/selective-licensing