Tagged: Damien Wilson

Hartlepool : Forcing bad landlords to clean up their act

A scheme to force bad housing landlords to clean up their act will be introduced after being approved by councillors.

A Selective Licensing scheme will see private landlords in 13 Hartlepool streets require a licence to operate.

It aims to clamp down on nuisance tenants and drive up housing standards for 544 properties.

There were calls from councillors and members of the Public for more streets to be included in the Hartlepool Borough Council scheme.

But officers warned they should only include streets where there was evidence to show there were problems to protect them from a potential judicial review by private landlords.

The council included streets where at least 50 per cent are privately rented and there was a repeat antisocial behaviour rate of 15 per cent.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said:

“If you’ve got bad landlords and bad management agents who don’t do proper reference checking and bung anybody in you end up with problems such as antisocial behaviour and drug dealing.

“This is all about driving up standards.”

He added selective licencing has worked in other areas of the town and elsewhere in the country.

The streets that will be the subject of the new five-year scheme are Cornwall Street, Kimberley Street, Richmond Street, and Rydal Street in the Burn Valley ward. In Foggy Furze ward it includes Borrowdale Street and Sydenham Road.

Five streets in Victoria Ward of Dent Street, Furness Street, Sheriff Street, Straker Street, and Stephen Street.

Burbank Street and St Oswald’s Street are also included in the Headland and Harbour and Jesmond wards.

Julie Rudge, secretary of the Dent and Derwent Street Residents’ Association said she was disappointed other streets around Dent Street were not included.

“I know there are issues in streets you are taking out,” she said.

Councillor Carl Richardson said residents of Belk Street also wanted to be included.

Councillor Pam Hargreaves said: “Picking out one or two streets makes it toothless.”

Officers agreed provide details of other streets that could be included if they lowered the criteria standards at the next meeting.

Source –  Hartlepool Mail,  19 Jan 2015

Hartlepool is seeing first rise in renting since 1918

Hartlepool councillors have agreed new plans for a council to set up a social lettings agency in Hartlepool in a bid to develop a more “robust” housing service.

 Housing chiefs at Hartlepool Borough Council say there is a need because the last decade has seen the first rise in the percentage of households renting since 1918.

But officials say it is estimated 34.8 per cent of the private rented sector does not meet the Decent Homes Standard, therefore they believe by developing a social lettings agency there is scope to generate much-needed income while helping improve the quality, standard and management of private rented properties.

A report highlighted some of the problems experienced in town including; poor management, poor quality housing, unresponsive repairs and maintenance, high rent levels and the poor appearance of properties.

The new agency, using existing council staff, will provide similar services to a commercial ‘high street’ letting and managing agent but officials say the intention is not to undercut the market, but provide a competitive rate for the service.

The decision was taken by the finance and policy committee and officials say this current year will be a transitional one. Any income is dependent on the number of properties managed but the target for properties to be managed by the council is 70 in 2015-16 and up to 100 the year after.

The council will target existing landlords who have expressed an interest, empty houses and the wider market. Meanwhile, tenants who are facing homelessness, those who can’t afford to buy a home or who are finding it hard to secure a tenancy in the private sector will also be targeted.

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, said: “The proposals provide important social benefits and will ensure a robust housing service able to meet the needs of service users into the future.

“The staffing resource being retained in the service is crucial to the development of the new services as they hold valuable skills and knowledge essential to the delivery of the new services.”

Initial market testing showed an appetite from landlords for a “reliable and affordable lettings and management agency”.

Source – Hartlepool Mail  03 July 2014