As a Labour council we have said that we wanted to get a better deal for people who rent their home – over 30 per cent of households. The cost and condition of housing was a key theme raised by residents during the Fairness Commission.
As lead member for the private rented sector I am pleased with the progress the Labour council has made over the last two years.
First we have focussed on houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and making sure they are regulated properly and have planning permission. This is important for tenants of HMOs and local residents as well. Next I have coordinated an HMO Forum in the areas of the city which have the most HMOs, so issues can be raised and actions taken. This has been very well supported and I am sending out a regular newsletter to those on the email list. I have also worked with many partners to set up Rent Smart Brighton and Hove, which provides information and advice to people renting privately.
Now I want to encourage everyone to get involved in a key next step. The council has started a consultation on a new selective licensing system for 12 wards in the city. All private rented properties in these wards would need to be licensed with the council if not already covered under HMO licensing. The council can inspect the property and make sure it meets a basic minimum standard. We are also proposing expanding HMO licensing to cover the whole city. The consultation runs until September 10. To take part, click here.
Private rented housing is not the first choice for many people. We are pushing ahead to deliver new council homes, and living wage homes through our joint venture. But selective licensing would mean that it is no longer down to private tenants to report problems to the council, something many tenants may be reluctant to do. The responsibility is with the landlord to ensure good standards, and with the council to check. Please get involved with the consultation and let’s improve our private rented sector.
Tracey Hill is a Labour councillor, and lead member for the private rented sector on Brighton and Hove City Council.