Poorly managed rented housing and anti social behaviour is being targeted in a new scheme aimed at landlords in Morecambe.
Lancaster City Council has launched a consultation for bringing in a strict licensing scheme in the West End and Poulton, in order to combat high levels of poorly managed private rented properties and low housing demand as well as problems of antisocial behaviour.
The two areas being looked at are Morecambe’s West End – an area around the border of Heysham North and Harbour towards the sea front, and Poulton - the area centred around Clarence Street, and bordered by Queen Street, and Poulton Square.
A three month consultation has been launched, which could see the scheme being introduced three to six months later. The West End of Morecambe has the highest level of private rented properties in the district at approximately 29-33 per cent, with some areas having as much as 80 per cent, compared with a district average of 13 per cent.
Coun Andrew Warriner, the city council’s cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said: “The council is committed to ensuring that houses in the private rented sector are fit for purpose and safe for those who live in them and that they have a positive impact on all those living and working around them.
“Although Lancaster City Council currently operates a mandatory licensing scheme for large houses in multiple occupation, the introduction of a selective/additional licensing scheme will enable it to focus on all rented housing in a specified area known to have high levels of poorly managed private rented properties and low housing demand as well as problems of antisocial behaviour; all of which has a negative impact on the surrounding community as well as any efforts made to regenerate the area. It will also mean that the council will be able to take enforcement action against unfit landlords if they have failed to obtain a licence for every property they own and meet specified criteria laid down by the council in terms of acceptable management standards.
“The aim will be to improve the management practices of landlords to create a more professional private rented sector and allow the council to work in partnership with landlords and agents to maximise the potential of the private rented sector to help meet a range of housing needs.”
If a landlord has breached licence conditions the council can issue a fine of up to £5,000 for each offence. Operating a property without a licence in a designated area could attract a fine of up to £20,000.