By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham councillors say a scheme to stamp out rogue landlords will help drive up energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector amid the cost of living crisis.
Labour-run Nottingham City Council set up the Selective Licensing scheme in August 2018 in a bid to make rented properties safer for tenants and a formal designation was given by the Government at the time.
It gave the authority the power to make sure rented homes met certain conditions by requiring landlords of certain properties to register and be issued with a license.
The scheme in its current form will expire on July 31 this year and, during a meeting at Loxley House on January 17, councillors approved recommendations it should apply for a new designation.
Plans for a newly revised scheme were drawn up back in May 2022, but some landlords have criticised the scheme and say it will drive up rents for tenants.
Labour councillors however generally supported the scheme and Cllr Linda Woodings (Lab) said it was important it was introduced given soaring energy bills.
She said: “I’m very supportive of us putting forward an application for a second scheme of selective licensing to protect tenants in the private rented sector.
“Thinking of the cost of living crisis and people’s energy bills, I notice that the Help for Households campaign has said the private rented sector has the least energy efficient homes of any type of home.
“So if you’re in the private rented sector it’s much more likely that your home will be a cold home with a very poor EPC rating.
“And so for private renting tenants, not only are they having to pay high levels of rent, but also they are having to pay more for their energy bills as well, because landlords are not investing in those properties to make them energy efficient.”
It is estimated there are more than 45,000 private-rented properties in the city and just over 30,000 properties will be covered by the new scheme.
Growth in the private rented sector is up by at least 1,000 more properties since the last scheme was put in place.
Landlords who refuse to join face a fine and prosecution.
The cost of the new licensing scheme will now be £880 for five years for a standard fee, with a proposed fee of £668 for accredited landlords, in considering inflation factors.
The new proposals would also introduce a higher fee for less compliant landlords of £1,212, as well as a proposed block licence for certain blocks of flats costing up to £2,135.
To run the scheme the council says it will need roughly £23m to cover overheads including 81 staff members. No profit would be made.
Under the previous scheme, 666 improvements were made to a total of 446 properties, but these figures have raised concerns over the scheme’s value for money.
Some landlords have also argued the scheme will lead to increases in rent because some will pass fees to tenants.
Landlord Mick Roberts previously said it would cost him £57,000 in fees.
He said: “Four years ago a two-bed in Nottingham was around £475, they are now £725. Three beds were £550, now they’re £850.
“Now we have got all these other issues in the UK, like supply and demand, and I agree with them, but in Nottingham Selective Licensing is one of the biggest causes of rent increases.”
Councillors accepted the recommendations to seek confirmation of the new designation from the Secretary of State for Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.