Licensed to Improve
28th June 2016
The secretary of State for the department of local communities approved a selective licensing scheme for landlords and managers of privately rented properties in two areas of Leeds in 2009, to improve living conditions for the residents and local community.
Despite proving successful, the council decided to take a less rigid approach, targeting regeneration efforts on a street by street basis involving closer partnership working.
The Leeds City Council's efforts to tackle the issue of empty homes and standards in the areas of poorest housing involved an injection of £1m funded by the New Homes Bonus. Part of the investment has been used to create the Leeds Neighbourhood Approach. The LNA involves a new team of officers who draw in a range of partners to support the regeneration of housing and environmental conditions. The remainder of the funding was used to create empty home loans and to take on compulsory purchase. Overall, £40m has been invested by the Leeds City Councils executive board since 2012 to improve housing in the city.
The objective of the LNA is to encourage landlords to be proactive in working with the council in order to improve the area, quality of the stock and management of their tenancies. The council incentivise landlords by offering them the chance to work with them during a six week amnesty. After which the council will use its formal powers and take appropriate action regarding property standards. If necessary, compulsory purchase procedures will be implemented where landlords fail to meet accommodation standards.
This scheme focuses on developing the community as a whole. Through working with partners such as the police and West Yorkshires Fire and Rescue Service the team is able to gain an understanding and address the resident’s issues. The main benefit of the LNA is that it offers a more personal experience for residents which in turn build trust.
Since the LNA started in 2013 there have been 533 inspections and revisits to properties of all tenures. Up to 166 privately rented properties have been improved and now meet legislative standards. Furthermore, the council has issued four compulsory purchase orders where owners of empty homes have failed to engage with the council.
A key objective of the project is to improve the lives of those who need it. Constant review is important as lessons must be learnt in order to move forward. This reformed way of working gives residents a voice and allows the council to work quickly in targeting areas of poor privately rented accommodation.