17 Dec 2018

Properties improved thanks to council licensing scheme

Almost 850 rented properties in the Stapleton Road area have received improvements thanks to a licensing scheme implemented by Bristol City Council.

The discretionary licensing scheme, which aims to improve housing standards and the management of privately rented properties, began in April 2013 and lasted five years.

The focus of the scheme was also to tackle associated anti-social behaviour in the licensing area. 

Licensing is proactive and enables officers to inspect every private rented property to check conditions and take action where housing and management standards are not met.

In the area, 1,207 properties were licensed and 1,648 licence inspections were undertaken. A further 837 inspections were carried out to properties in the scheme area where service requests and complaints about poor conditions were received.

As a result of these inspection, 845 properties were improved to meet licencing conditions.

Over a quarter (27%) of licensed properties were found to  have serious health and safety hazards and 70%  of properties required works to be carried out to meet licence conditions. In addition 68% of the licensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) were found to have had management regulation breaches.

In addition, 204 other referrals were, the majority of which were to tackle anti-social behaviour. These referrals related to a wide range of problems, from human trafficking and drugs, through to littering, graffiti and fly tipping.

The council worked alongside voluntary organisations, the police and others to ensure that these issues were followed up.

The majority of landlords worked with the council to bring their properties up to the required standard, however, it was necessary to take enforcement action in a significant number of cases. This resulted in 665 legal notices being served on landlords. Ten landlords were also prosecuted for a total of 37 offences relating to the licensing.

Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet member for Housing said: “The Stapleton Road licensing scheme was the first area based property licensing scheme in Bristol and has proved to be a great success in proactively targeting a specific area to improve the housing standards and conditions for tenants.

“We have had some very good feedback from local people who say that the scheme has had a positive impact on the area.

“It also had a significant impact on many aspects of anti-social behaviour as well as dealing with criminal activity, such as human trafficking, and drug related issues. 

“The lessons learned from this pilot scheme will be used in any future proposals brought forward for property licensing in the city.”

A second property licensing scheme is currently operating in the Eastville and St George area of the city, and residents, landlords and tenants are currently being consulted on a further area covering 12 wards in the central area of Bristol.