The scheme would require landlords within designated areas to apply for a five-year licence, demonstrating that they have adequate management arrangements in place.
If it goes ahead, the selective licensing scheme, which would cover up to 65 per cent of the county’s private rented sector and approximately 51,000 properties, is expected to improve the living conditions of tenants, while benefiting the wider community.
The initiative is part of work to enhance housing provision and tackle issues such as deprivation, empty homes and anti-social behaviour in the county’s towns and villages.
Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of development and housing, said: “Due to the disruption caused by coronavirus, we have had to cancel many of our planned public consultation events for both residents and landlords. We have extended the consultation period and added virtual meetings and telephone call-backs to allow as many members of the community as possible to have their say on the proposed changes.”
The public consultation asks residents to comment on whether there are problems with bad tenants and if targeting the bad landlords through penalties and even prosecution is the best approach to tackle issues with poor rental properties and areas.
Private landlords and letting agents are also invited to have their say at two online events.
The webinars, on Monday 27 July at 1.00pm and Wednesday 29 July at 5.00pm, will provide an opportunity to view the council’s evidence and reasoning for the introduction of selective licensing, and offer a chance to ask questions.
Places for the online events must be booked in advance at www.durham.gov.uk/article/22640/Consultation-on-licensing-of-privately-rented-homes-in-some-areas-of-the-county. Questions can either be submitted in advance or asked at the meeting.
Further information about the consultation can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/consultation where people can also complete an online survey to submit their views.