The Committee were asked to consider a report from the Housing and Environmental Enforcement Manager, which provided an update on the Selective Licensing Scheme in Gainsborough following on from its cessation. Members heard that there were estimated to be around 550 private rented properties within the specific area designated and circa 800 private rented properties across the whole of the South West Ward. Over the course of the scheme there were 809 licenses granted within the designated area. This amounted to 98% of the eligible properties, which exceeded the original target of 80% that the original proposals were based upon in 2016. Of the applications received, 77 were for properties which had previously had a licence issued.
Members heard that the scheme had enabled a greater amount of work to be undertaken within the area. It was noted that the number of long-term empty properties within the area had significantly decreased in comparison with the rest of the district and the volume of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) complaints had also reduced. Whilst it was not possible to directly attribute reductions in ASB to the scheme itself, it was evident that the scheme had enabled the Council to take quick effective action with landlords in relation ASB that originated from their properties and as a result, some of these matters were being dealt with by landlords without the need for Council involvement.
It was explained that a further report would be presented to the Committee in November 2021 that would consider the feasibility of any future scheme within the District. This work was currently being undertaken and a workshop for Councillors was held in August, to provide an overview for how the process would work and how any consultation may be undertaken. Members were assured that the lessons learned shown within the report, alongside the comments in relation to scheme improvements that had been received during its delivery, would be taken into consideration and where possible delivered as part of any new proposals.
The Chairman thanked the Housing and Environmental Enforcement Manager and invited comments from the Committee. A Member of the Committee expressed his disappointment with the scheme and voiced his concerns that landlords had not been consulted with, either during the scheme or at its cessation. He shared his disagreement that ASB figures had reduced in the area and stated that remedial actions had not been put in place to improve matters. He detailed issues he had come across with drug use, intimidation of residents and unsanitary conditions and repeated his disappointment that landlords had not been consulted with throughout the course of the scheme.
The Chairman thanked him for his comments and noted that, as a review of the previous scheme, it was not possible to go back however the paper in November would look at future options.
There were further questions regarding the options for enforcement action following the end of the scheme and whether there were considerations for improved communication with landlords for future schemes. It was explained that enforcement action could still be undertaken using powers under the Housing Act and, with regards to looking at communication with landlords, it was acknowledged that there would be further consideration as to how to facilitate this in the future. It was also acknowledged that, as the scheme came with an additional fee, there was natural reticence amongst landlords to support such initiatives.
Having heard comments from others, a Member of the Committee wished to commend the team for the work undertaken and the improvements displayed in the area. This was echoed by the Chairman with a request that thanks be passed on to those Officers involved with the scheme.
Having been moved and seconded, the Chairman took a vote on the recommendation contained with the report. With two votes against and one abstention, it was
RESOLVED that the report, positive outcomes and lessons learned as part of the scheme be NOTED.
Note: Councillor T. Young requested that his vote against the recommendation be recorded.