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Views sought on Wisbech landlords' licensing plan

A wide-ranging consultation is being launched on Monday (February 29) on a proposal aimed at tackling widespread problems concerning privately rented housing in Wisbech.

Have Your Say

Fenland District Council is seeking to introduce a "selective licensing" scheme in seven wards in the town. It wants as many people as possible - landlords, tenants and local residents - to have their say on the plan.

The 10-week consultation will include a series of events, starting next week, to explain how the scheme would work and gather the public's views.

Letters are also being sent to landlords, agents and residents in the affected wards, encouraging them to respond.

Councillor Will Sutton, FDC's Cabinet member responsible for housing, said: "We know that some people are currently living in very poor conditions and there are significant issues of crime and antisocial behaviour that are closely linked to that.

"We believe that selective licensing is the necessary next step in combating those problems and would thus benefit everyone in Wisbech. But precisely because it is something that would have an impact on the whole town, it's important that local people tell us what they think about it."

The first public consultation event will be in Wisbech Market Place next Thursday (March 3), 10am-3pm. Others are scheduled there for March 17 and April 28.

There will also be drop-in sessions at the Rosmini Centre (April 1, April 15 and May 6) and the council's Fenland @ your service shop (March 14, April 11 and April 25).

Local landlords are being invited to two meetings at the Boathouse (March 23 and April 21) and there are also plans for a meeting with representatives of the National Landlords Association.

The scheme's main aims are to improve housing conditions, drive out rogue landlords and put a stop to overcrowding and the exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers.

It would cover seven wards - Clarkson, Kirkgate, Medworth, Octavia Hill, Peckover, Staithe and Waterlees Village - and would affect an estimated 2,400 properties.

All private sector landlords in the designated area would have to show they are "fit and proper" persons to hold a licence and comply with all normal standards, including having the necessary safety measures in place.

Licences would last for five years and cost £575 for a single household let and £750 for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

Cllr Sutton said: "This is not about us seeking to make money. The licence fees are calculated on the basis that they will recover the cost of operating the scheme over a five-year period. They purely cover the costs, they do not make a profit - indeed, the scheme is not allowed to make a profit."

The consultation will run until May 8. The results will go to FDC's Cabinet in June.

Article added February 26, 2016