New Proposal Aimed At Improving Private Rental In Wolverhampton.

Here in Wednesfield North as in other areas of the City. Housing is at a Premium. There are constantly more people contacting me wanting to rent a home in Wednesfield North, that at any time previously. Yet the Council owned homes are reducing, due to the ‘Right to Buy‘ legislation.  With no Council owned homes being built in Wednesfield North the only other sectors open to people who want to live in this area of the City of Wolverhampton is through ‘owning your own home’ or through renting in the private sector. 

Renting private sector property has grown more popular in recent years here in Wednesfield North. 

We even have a new ‘Letting Agency’ set up and open for business in the Shopping Parade at Griffith Drive. It appears to be  a well run business which is hoping to grow.

L&A Lettings Ltd, Wednesfield Tel: 01922 321009  

L&A lettings describe themselves as “a family run business letting and managing residential properties across The Black Country and South Staffordshire. We have been involved in property investment, letting and management since 2002 and have steadily grown by ‘word of mouth’, relying solely on our excellent reputation, built on our fair and transparent approach to both Landlords and Tenants.”

Recently the Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel took a look at a new proposal aimed at the private sector renting with a view to making it much more ‘safe’ for people wanting to rent in this sector.  Here is the outcome of that meeting, and a set of resolutions that put Wolverhampton at the head of a campaign so that people who do want to rent in the private sector can do so with confidence, by choosing an agency that is accredited. Here is the outcome of the work that the city Council has initiated.

Woodened road verges‘Rent with confidence’ campaign

Lesley Williams, Service Manager Private Sector Housing and Nick Edwards,

Service Director City Assets were in attendance to provide a report and an update on

the progress on ‘Rent with Confidence’ (RwC) proposals to date and to seek the

Panels views on the proposals for progressing and implementing the initiative across

the City.

Cllr Keith Inston indicated that this was an excellent idea. In response to questions

from Cllr Caroline Siarkewicz relating to the star rating, the Service Manager advised

that the star rating is about a benchmarking and accreditation process. She advised

that the scheme incentivises maintenance of standards and by doing so a high star

rating. Good landlords would not be penalised but must maintain standards to keep

the higher star rating.

In response to Cllr Lynne Moran the Service Manager advised that there were

currently approximately 18,000 lets in Wolverhampton, all private rented, which is

about 13% of the total stock. She clarified that Houses of Multiple Occupancy

(HMOs) need a licence if there are three or more storeys and there are five or more

people in occupancy.

Cllr John Rowley indicated there are probably a substantial number of landlords in

Blakenhall that are not interested in accreditation, he referred to a recent surge in fly

tipping in areas of rented accommodation and some areas are in an appalling state.

He indicated many landlords are disinterested in the tenants and he could not see

how RwC would relate to these types of landlords. The Service Director assured the

Panel that RwC is part of a number of measures relating to the private rented sector

(PRS) landlords to work with them to ‘educate, encourage and enforce’.

The Service Director also advised it gives good landlords recognition which is not

something that is currently possible.

Cllr Phil Bateman welcomed the approach; in particular that Wolverhampton will be

the first Authority to do this. There were some concerns voiced about the resources

ring fenced for this programme, some councillors questioned if these monies could

be better utilised in public health services and wanted to know more about the detail

of costs relating to RwC scheme. The Service manager explained the Public Health

 

(PH) funding would fund a range of initiatives to improve PRS including ‘Additional

Licensing’ of all HMOs, RwC scheme and an enforcement review, the aim of the

overall package will be to improve health outcomes of residents living in PRS

accommodation across the city.

 

In response to further questions the Service Manager advised all funding sources,

existing provision, the PH and that from ‘Additional Licensing’ will be utilised to

address standards on the PR sector including the RwC scheme. Councillors

requested further clarification on the resourcing and implementation proposals for the RwC be circulated to the Panel. Cllr Andrew Wynne suggested an element of caution should be observed when taking on a large sphere of activity.

 

The Service Director clarified that the Public Health funding has been identified to

help in part introduce the package of initiatives to improve the standard of the PRS,

the environment and the health and wellbeing of residents in Wolverhampton.

 

Cllr Ian Angus, the Chair of the Panel, requested a briefing paper relating to the cost

against impact be prepared to be shared with the Panel.

 

The Chair of the Panel questioned whether ‘letting agents’ would be included in the

RwC scheme and was informed that as of March 2015 letting agents must display

their fees and some of the better letting agents would be participating.

Cllr Phil Bateman supported the RwC proposals and especially the way Wolverhampton is taking the initiative and being the first to implement this scheme for landlords and letting agents, he said the scheme needs to be progressed as quickly as possible.

 

The Chair of the Panel thanked the witnesses and agreed the following

recommendations:

Resolved

  1. That Panel recognise the existing and potential future role of the private

rented sector (PRS) in delivering on the housing offer in the City

  1. That Panel note the rent with confidence (RwC) proposals and

timescales to develop and deliver the resulting strategies and progress

made to date

  1. That Panel endorse a cross Council approach to the development,

support and use of Private Rented Sector (PRS) accommodation

  1. That Panel note the public health outcomes and wider impact that a

vibrant and appropriately managed Private Rented Sector (PRS) can

bring to the City. 

  1. That Panel receive a briefing paper relating to the cost against impact

of the rent with confidence (RwC) proposals and other initiatives to

improve the City’s housing offer.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more

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