Selective licensing scheme set to improve housing in County Durham

A scheme which aims to drive up standards across County Durham’s private rented housing sector has been approved by the government.

Durham County Council has been successful in applying for a large-scale selective licensing scheme, requiring all private landlords to obtain a licence to rent properties in designated areas of the county.

The scheme will cover around 29,000 homes, 42 per cent of the county’s private rented sector. It will go live on 1 April 2022 when licences can be issued, with the application process opening for landlords in early February 2022.

Selective licensing is a key objective of the County Durham Housing Strategy 2019 to 2024 which aims to maintain and improve standards across the county’s housing stock and wider housing environment.

The scheme will help to create long-term, sustainable neighbourhoods by ensuring that any privately rented properties are well managed and in good condition. It will also protect both the residents and tenants alike by tackling landlords who do not comply.

Landlords must apply for a licence and ensure their management practices and properties meet standards set out by the scheme. It promotes good management and maintenance by landlords and will see properties regularly inspected by the council.

Landlords will be required to make repairs and improvements that have been identified as part of the inspection and failure to comply will result in enforcement action being taken.

The licence fee per property rented will be a maximum of £500 and will cover a five-year period. However, a number of discounts are available if landlords meet certain criteria, and this could reduce the fee to £350 per licence.

Cllr James Rowlandson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for resources, investments and assets, said: “I am delighted that the government has given us the green light to proceed with the selective licensing scheme. Good quality housing is key to having a good quality of life and while there are many good landlords across the county, who manage their properties and tenancies responsibly, it is important that those landlords who fail to meet the quality test are held accountable. This is exactly what the selective licensing scheme aims to do.

“It supports landlords, our residents and communities. By raising the management and maintenance standards of private rented properties, we can help to improve the health and wellbeing of tenants and reduce anti-social behaviour in our communities. It will also allow us to better support landlords and ensure they have the right tools to deliver a high standard of service in the sector.”

More information about the selective licensing scheme can be found on the council’s website at https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/2882/Selective-licensing-of-privately-rented-properties

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