16:47 PM, 15th February 2012, About 11 years ago
A council hit-team is readying to prosecute rogue landlords who have dodged signing up to a selective licensing scheme.
The team is tracking down a group of landlords in Sunderland who have ignored calls to license their buy to let and HMO properties in the city.
Investigators are planning to interview them under caution with a view of sending them to court if they still fail to join the scheme.
Sunderland City Council has already issued hundreds of licenses to landlords since July 2010.
The selective licensing scheme covers the neighbourhood of Hendon, where 646 applications relating to 720 properties had been received by the end of 2011.
Out of 2,500 homes, 70 owned by 30 landlords remain unlicensed.
So far, 470 licenses were issued with conditions relating to improvements and 192 properties were brought up to standard in line with council advice.
About 20 homes empty for more than six months are now occupied.
Derek Welsh, housing and neighbourhood renewal manager, said: “The vast majority of landlords in Sunderland are good, reasonable landlords, but some don’t manage their homes or tenants well.
“We are now in the second stage of the legislation, taking prosecutions against people.”
Meanwhile, Nottingham City Council is ready to take on new planning powers to manage houses in multiple occupation from March 1.
The council is implementing an article 4 direction under town and country planning rules despite heavy opposition from students, landlords and letting agents.
The direction covers the city neighbourhoods of Lenton and Dunkirk.
From March, landlords must have planning permission before opening any new shared house for three to five tenants or for switching any HMO to a single let and back to an HMO.
Currently let properties are not affected.
Councillor Jane Urquhart, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for Planning and Transportation, said: “We have considered all the objections. We are proud of Nottingham’s status as a top university city and hope students are clear that this decision does not affect existing HMOs and will not suddenly reduce the housing stock available for them.”
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