New landlord licensing scheme set to improve housing standards and tackle problems in South Shields' Beach Road area

New licensing rules could soon be brought in across South Shields to help drive up housing standards in the private rented sector.

Beach Road in South Shields would be covered by the new licensing scheme
Beach Road in South Shields would be covered by the new licensing scheme

Next week, South Tyneside Council’s ruling cabinet will be asked to adopt ‘selective licensing’ in two designated zones in the town.

This would require landlords of all privately-rented properties within Beach Road and surrounding streets and the ‘Long Streets’ areas, to operate under the terms of a licence awarded by the council.

The licences would come with a number of conditions aimed at ensuring accommodation is of a high standard and well-managed.

A view down Beach Road.

In practice, the scheme aims to make landlords and tenants more accountable for the care and cleanliness of accommodation and surrounding areas.

The council also aims to engage proactively with landlords and “improve relationships’ – with extra support provided to landlords to secure improvements to communities and address concerns around property condition.

Councillor Mark Walsh, lead member for housing and transport, said: “The private rented sector plays an important role in South Tyneside’s housing market, but some areas present challenges where properties have been subject to neglect, leading to increased antisocial behaviour.

“Introducing selective licensing in these zones will give the council a tool to tackle some of the worst privately-rented accommodation in the borough in a coordinated and adequately resourced way, alongside engaging proactively with landlords and improving relationships.

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South Tyneside Council hopes its new policy will improve rented housing in the borough.

“It would help provide tenants with a greater choice of safe, good quality and well-managed accommodation and turnover and the number of empty properties would be reduced.”

The proposed cost of a selective licence will be around £550 per property for a five-year period and is payable over two parts.

This includes £150 when applying and £400 to be paid once the licence has been approved.

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Formal consultation was carried out earlier this year, with letters sent to more than 4,000 households, landlords and businesses in the proposed areas as well as drop-in sessions and presentations at landlords’ forums.

The council received 49 responses by email and post with 25 objecting to the scheme.

Objectors were either landlords or landlords who also live in the affected areas.

According to cabinet papers, landlords had “serious reservations” about the scheme with many feeling the fee was “unaffordable and unfair.”

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If the scheme is approved, the cabinet report goes on to say, the council would “look to introduce different methods by which landlords can pay their licence fee in order to reduce the impact of the fee.”

Cllr Walsh added: “In the supportive comments received, the reduction in anti-social behaviour was a consistent theme.

“Tenants and residents had experienced it first-hand and believed a selective licensing scheme would help deter it.”

For the council to be able to declare a selective licensing scheme there must be a high proportion of private rented properties where there is at least one of the following issues: low housing demand, antisocial behaviour, high levels of deprivation or crime and high levels of migration.

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Cabinet will be asked to approve the introduction of the scheme in the Beach Road and Long Streets areas for a period of five years, starting from April 2021.

The scheme will also be developed to be ‘self-financing’, with any income generated used for the running of the scheme or improvements in the licensed areas.

Borough bosses will discuss the proposals on Wednesday, November 4 at a virtual cabinet meeting.

The meeting starts at 4pm and can be viewed here: www.southtyneside.gov.uk/watchcouncilmeetings

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