08:12 Wednesday 15th February 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
JOANNE HODGES PETERBOROUGH CITY COUNCIL: .. we’ve also got the thing called Selective Licensing, which is another tool that we’re considering using within the Millfield and New England area. That means that all rented accommodation within that area would need to be licensed. So it would allow us to work with landlords, and landlords that don’t comply, to tackle things like anti-social behaviour, and the fact that they don’t give rent books, tenancy agreements, litter, that kind of thing. It would give us a lot more control over those issues.
PAUL STAINTON: So you can target the areas, because you know where the areas are where there’s a problem.
JOANNE HODGES: Yes we do. And we currently have an HMO licensing scheme within the Millfield and New England area, which has been successful. We’ve had some good prosecutions on it. Not all the landlords have come forward and licensed, so we are at a stage where we’re fighting the landlords that won’t license. But by increasing that, and including .. changing to Selective Licensing, we will tackle the HMOs with two people, two or three people in them. It will include all of the rented sector.
PAUL STAINTON: So Millfield and New England is one area. Is there any other areas across Peterborough that you’re targeting?
JOANNE HODGES: Not currently. We’re using Millfield and New England because we currently have the licensing scheme there at the minute.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. What happens when you go in to these places? .. landlords have limited powers effectively, once they’ve got people in their houses. They can’t .. it takes a lot to get rid of somebody from a house, doesn’t it? What happens when you go in?
JOANNE HODGES: Well when we go in, the majority of the houses are absolutely fine. People do choose to share because of the economies of it. I know it’s not what we’re normally having. In our country we don’t normally share except if it’s a family unit. But there is a need for this type of accommodation. It’s just about making landlords comply, where they should comply, and controlling the tenants where there needs to control the tenants.
PAUL STAINTON: But there’s a cost, isn’t there, for planning. There’s a cost for licensing. And I can see landlords listening this morning, going hmmm.
JOANNE HODGES: There is. But there is a cost to everything. We’re talking about targeting the real rogue landlords, the ones that just go round, collect the rent, clear off, and don’t repair the houses, don’t look after their tenants, aren’t bothered whether the tenants fill the gardens full of rubbish, and that kind of thing. So it will tackle those types of landlords. It will also impact on the good landlords as well. But in the area that we’re talking about, we’ve got a lot of bad landlords.
PAUL STAINTON: So ultimately, you would go in, give them a warning to start with?
JOANNE HODGES: We would ask them to license, yes. And if they don’t license, then we’ll take action against them.
PAUL STAINTON: What does that involve?
JOANNE HODGES: It could be anything from prosecuting them for not licensing, which will be a legal requirement, to taking over the management of the house, and the Council effectively managing the house, and taking it away from them for a period of time.
PAUL STAINTON: So you would actually take the house off them.
JOANNE HODGES: We’ve done that on three occasions in the past year.
PAUL STAINTON: In Millfield?
JOANNE HODGES: Yup.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. And what was the outcome of all that?
JOANNE HODGES: The outcome .. one of them is ongoing. Two of them, both of the landlords were prosecuted for not licensing the properties, and got fines range of between ten and fifteen thousand pounds. And we effectively took the house away. They didn’t have any control over that house. We’ve put all the fire safety and repairs, and did everything like that. Got all the tenants so they knew what their rights were as regards tenancy agreements, rental agreements, that kind of thing. And eventually the houses became licensed and were managed.
PAUL STAINTON: So watch out. If you don’t license, we could be coming for your house.
JOANNE HODGES: We certainly can.
PAUL STAINTON: Do you keep the rent, by the way, from that?
JOANNE HODGES: No we don’t. We use it for the repairs, and to bring the houses up to standard. And any excess rent goes back to the landlord.
PAUL STAINTON: OK. Well listen, thank you for coming in this morning. Good luck with it, in a very challenging economic times ..
JOANNE HODGES: Thank you.
PAUL STAINTON: .. austere times, with less and less resources. We will try and crack down on the problem, is what Joanne is saying, from Peterborough City Council.