A proposed selective licensing scheme for private landlords will go out to public consultation after councillors agree to press ahead with their plans.
The consultation will last for 12 weeks and include a draft fee structure for selective licensing for landlords letting single homes and for smaller houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Brighton and Hove City Council plans to start the scheme in the four worst affected wards in Brighton and Hove
- Moulsecoomb and Bevendean
- Queen’s Park
- Whitehawk and Marina
If the selective licensing scheme goes ahead, 4,000 properties are expected to be included in the first phase.
The proposed fees are £670 on application and £2.57 a week. A discount of £75 would apply to properties with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C or above along with a reduced weekly fee of £2.29.
Anyone failing to apply for a licence would be liable to pay a £760 “prompted fee”.
A report to the council’s Housing and New Homes Committee meeting said that the fees were calculated to cover the cost of administrative support, property inspections and other related tasks. The council is not permitted to make a profit from the scheme.
Conservative councillor Anne Meadows accused the council’s housing department of failing to act robustly because it already had powers to check landlords and their EPCs and electrical and gas safety certificates.
Councillor Meadows said: “I am supporting a young woman with learning disabilities who is in a property the council has placed her in for years.
“The council has given the landlord three months to produce their EPC certificate and the electrical safety certificate. This should have been in place in 2020.”
She also asked how the consultation would be publicised to ensure that it was not just put on the website without anyone seeing it.
Housing strategy and enabling manager Diane Hughes said that the council did have an enforcement role but licensing would give the council “early intervention” powers with landlords.
For the consultation, a survey would be included on the council’s portal along with paper copies at council offices and libraries.
A postcard drop to promote the scheme and poster and social media promotion were planned, she said. Public meetings were also planned in person and online.
Labour councillor Andrei Czolak said: “The arguments we often encounter against licensing schemes is the notion that it would lead landlords to raise rents to cover the costs.
“The report states we expect the proposed fee structure to be reasonable enough such that the fees would be fully tax deductible. That should mean there is no need for landlords to raise rents in response to these costs.”