A NEW scheme to maintain a high standard of rental properties in County Durham has opened.
Durham County Council’s Selective Licensing Scheme requires all private landlords to obtain a license to rent properties in designated areas of the county.
In total, at least 29,000 properties, or 42% of the county’s private rental sector, are covered by the scheme, which was approved by the government in November 2021 following a council application.
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Selective licensing is a key part of County Durham’s housing strategy 2019 to 2024, which aims to maintain and improve standards across the county’s housing stock and also in the housing environment at large.
The program helps create long-term sustainable neighborhoods by ensuring that all privately rented properties are well managed and in good condition. It will also protect residents and tenants by cracking down on landlords who fail to comply.
Owners must apply for a license and ensure that their management practices and properties meet the standards set by the program. It promotes good management and maintenance by landlords and will see rental properties regularly inspected by the municipality.
Owners will be required to make repairs and improvements that have been identified through inspections and failure to comply will result in enforcement action being taken.
The license fee per rental property is a maximum of £500 and covers a period of five years. However, a number of discounts are available if owners meet certain criteria, which can reduce the fee to £350 per license.
The application process opened in February this year and owners are encouraged to apply for a license as soon as possible. A £60 discount per property license is available until the end of July. This is to ensure that as many owners apply for the license as possible before compliance checks begin and possible enforcement action is required.
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Cllr James Rowlandson, Cabinet Member for Resources, Investments and Assets, said: ‘We are delighted to have launched this scheme in County Durham, encouraging landlords to manage their properties and lettings in a responsible.
“This is a key aim of County Durham’s housing strategy and will raise the standards for private rental properties in our area. It will also improve the health and well-being of tenants and reduce anti-social behavior in our communities.
“The program also aims to enable us to better support landlords so they can provide the best possible service to their tenants and to hold accountable those who fail to meet the required standard.”
More information about the scheme, including details of further reductions, can be found at www.durham.gov.uk/selectivelicensing Telephone inquiries can now be made by calling the Housing Solutions telephone number 03000 268000 and pressing option 2.
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