Recently, plans were announced to expand selective licensing schemes to 14 new pockets of Stoke-on-Trent, with 3,300 properties expected to be affected.
This new initiative will cover 151 streets in Burslem, Cobridge, Hanley, Longport, Middleport, Northwood, Shelton, Stoke, Cobridge and Tunstall, among others. And despite the scheme being designed to tackle poor housing conditions within the city, it’s been met with mixed emotions.
What is selective licensing?
In a nutshell, selective licensing is a local authority-led scheme designed to help combat antisocial behaviour, generally caused by tenants within a localised private rented sector.
Selective licensing is a tool based on controlling the behaviour of private landlords, creating compulsory initiatives for said landlords to help reduce social issues in the area surrounding their investment(s).
Selective licensing on Stoke-on-Trent: the response
With the announcement of a selective licensing expansion in Stoke-on-Trent, many local landlords will be subject to a host of stringent regulations.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council believes that the introduction of selective licensing will reduce crime and anti-social behaviour while making communities more attractive, helping to build on the already thriving progress of The Potteries.
While selective licensing schemes have offered benefits to landlords concerning longevity and return on their investments, it's not always a popular option - and many local landlords do not feel it is necessary.
A host of Stoke-on-Trent landlords state there is no evidence to suggest selective licensing has worked in the city, and argue that it will only serve to increase the burden on responsible property owners.
Under this freshly announced scheme, which is expected to be rolled out within the next few months, all private landlords (in the affected areas) will have to be licensed, with their properties meeting particular predetermined standards. Licences come in at the cost of around £500 per dwelling for a five-year period, and it is an offence to rent out a property in a designated area without holding a licence.
Speaking to The Sentinel on the subject, a longstanding city landlord, Sara Hammerton, said:
“The North Staffordshire Landlord Accreditation scheme has more than 400 members. We care about this city, and we want to work with the council to improve the city. However, we get the feeling that they’re not on our side. Things like selective licensing make things harder for good landlords while allowing the bad, rogue landlords to fly under the radar."
In the report, Ms Hammerton goes on to explain that the issues raised concerning the introduction of the selective licensing expansion are already being tackled by the council and will serve little value in the long run.
While like any pressing matter, the value of selective licensing is up for debate, one thing is clear: Stoke-on-Trent remains a thriving buy-to-let location with a level of progress that is reflected in local cultural initiatives, infrastructure improvements, new amenities - and even the rumbles of a possible concert stadium development in the pipeline.
Regardless of the perception of selective licensing - something we felt our duty to report on as a passionate local property business - it’s clear that the landlords of The Potteries care a great deal about the properties as well as the communities surrounding them, and as the city goes from strength to strength, so will its private rented sector.