Council to introduce licensing scheme for landlords

24 October 2017

From April 2018 private landlords in part of the Maybury and Town Centre area of Woking (Canalside Ward) will require a licence to operate. Woking Borough Council approved the first Private Landlord Selective Licensing scheme in Surrey last Thursday.

The licensing scheme will support the need for decent, affordable housing and mitigate poor housing standards associated with high levels of private rented accommodation. The selected area in the Borough has a high proportion of tenants renting accommodation (44% of properties) from private landlords. In many cases, the accommodation breaches safety standards and is well below what is acceptable for people to live in.

Cllr Colin Kemp, Woking Borough Councils Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: "The Council is committed to creating sustainable communities with rented properties that are safe for individuals and families. When people live in a decent home, and are safe and well, and tend to care more about the area they live in. For most of the Borough that is the case, but where there are issues, we are seeking to address them through this five year scheme.

"The majority of private landlords across the Borough do provide good accommodation to private renters and we have good working relationship with them. From the consultation we ran earlier in the year, we received a clear message from responsible landlords that a licensing scheme is a good idea, but they challenged our initial proposals because the costs would penalise the good landlords. We listened, and landlords now have until 1 April 2018 to engage with us and obtain there licence free of charge for the full five years of the scheme. This proves our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and working with the private rented sector.

"We want to make it absolutely clear that this licensing scheme will not require responsible landlords to do any more than what is already required of them by law. But it will go a long way to ensuring that landlords who do not already meet the required standards, or in worse cases, fall well below them, are brought to our attention and in some cases, brought to justice."

A consultation seeking the views of private tenants, landlords and borough residents on a licensing scheme for private rented accommodation in part of Canalside Ward was conducted over a 12-week period in the spring.

The Council also operates an accreditation scheme for landlords in conjunction with the National Landlords Association. Achieving accreditation allows landlords to use a formal Woking Borough Council accreditation mark on their letterhead which is recognised nationally.

For more information about the private rented sector, please visit www.woking.gov.uk/privatesectorhousing.

Alternatively, please contact the Housing Standards Team on 01483 755855 or email propertylicensing@woking.gov.uk