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NO TO RENTED PROPERTY LICENSING SCHEME

But praise for council's consultation

There will not be a local licensing scheme in Boston for all privately-rented accommodation, but the process of investigation and consultation has been deemed worthwhile.

The National Landlords' Association has praised the council's consultation exercise with the Lincolnshire representative saying it's the best he's ever seen.

Don Robbie said: "I deal with about 18 local authorities and have seen a lot of consultations in my time. I have no hesitation in saying that Boston Borough Council's consultation on this is by far the best I have seen. It very clearly set out exactly what the situation and options were, it encouraged people to get hold of the document, made it available and then listened to what people were saying."

On Monday Boston Borough Council's Cabinet agreed not to pursue a licensing scheme after hearing that there had been improvements in levels of anti-social behaviour - the only criteria available under which legislation would allow for licensing.

Housing, property and communities portfolio holder, Cllr Mike Gilbert, told Cabinet that a licensing scheme would almost certainly be subject to judicial review, which the council would lose, costing Boston residents a considerable amount of money.

He said the other test for licensing of under occupancy or low demand for private tenancies - would not stand up. He said in Boston private rented accommodation was much in demand and rents high, "meaning only the criminal element of landlords who won't maintain property fail to discharge their obligations. Most private rental property generates a premium income and good landlords maintain property to an if not sufficient at least not illegal standard. There are, therefore, no run-down private sector ghettos in Boston."

He said that the consultation undertaken by the council had been successful and wide-ranging, bringing together interested parties both locally and nationally.

Cllr Gilbert said that working collaboratively with landlords, letting agents and other groups, standards could be driven up via the Rogue Landlord initiative, disrupting the criminal elements and driving them away from the private tenancy market.

Council leader, Cllr Peter Bedford, said the consultation exercise had been worthwhile. Cllr Paul Gleeson, chairman of the scrutiny committee which recommended the licensing scheme be put on hold, said the issue could be revisited with a view to licensing only HMOs (houses of multiple occupation), which had a less-stringent test to pass.

Cabinet agreed to seek a continuation of Rogue Landlord funding from Government after the current funding expires during 2014/15.

Earlier this year Boston Borough Council made a joint bid with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority for Rogue Landlord funding from the Government and was awarded £109,000 to help fund investigations into the activities of unscrupulous landlords and any necessary enforcement action, especially those with tenants living in squalid and dangerous properties.