Housing improvement scheme refused by Secretary of State
Hastings Borough Council's application for a new selective licensing scheme has been refused by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick. The new scheme would have followed on from the success of the old selective licensing scheme for rented homes, which had run from October 2015 to October 2020. Current licences will remain in place until they expire.
The long awaited decision, received in the middle of May 2021, refused a new scheme on the basis that the secretary of state did not believe that the evidence satisfactorily showed there was justification for the scheme in the selected wards in Hastings.
The Housing Act 2004 allows local housing authorities to place licence conditions on landlords to bring about improvements in the standards of rented accommodation in designated areas.
Council leader Cllr Kim Forward, said, "We are bitterly disappointed by the decision of the Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government not to allow our selective licensing scheme to continue. It has brought about an improvement in the conditions to rented properties and the fact that this additional protection is no longer available means it is the tenants that will suffer as a result.
Councillor Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing, added, "During the time the scheme has been running thousands of local families have been protected and slept soundly in their beds at night knowing that their home was safe, and that their landlord was a fit a proper person because of the selective licensing scheme and the officers who inspected them. Thanks to opposition councillors lobbying our MP she has seen fit to not support over 7000 renting households in our town. I consider this to be a massive dark and backwards step in the protection of our local families, and a disgraceful decision by the government."
At least six council officers who helped run the scheme to improve housing conditions and protect vulnerable tenants have lost, or will lose, their jobs.