A Sheffield City Council report outlining findings from the selective landlord licensing pilot on London Road, Abbeydale Road and Chesterfield Road has seen improvements to the quality of housing.
The report, which was approved by Councillors at a meeting of the Housing policy committee on Friday 26th January, covered the selective licensing scheme that was in operation from 1st November 2018 until 31st October 2023.
The scheme was introduced following the decision taken by the then Sheffield Labour Cabinet. Sheffield Labour’s 2022 and 2023 manifesto commitments sought to introduce a citywide landlord licensing scheme, following the paths set out by cities such as Liverpool and Oxford.
The report noted that the council has a statutory duty to regulate the private housing sector. Conditions in private rented housing are known to be poor; in 2021, the England Housing Survey estimated that 23% of private rented homes did not meet the Decent Home Standard—compared to 13% of owner-occupied and 10% of social-rented homes. A 2022 inquiry by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee found that tenants in poor housing can end up ‘with serious illness, financial issues or homelessness.’
Through the implementation of the Sheffield scheme, all privately rented properties in the subject areas required a licence, and 99% of licenced properties were inspected on at least one occasion. Landlords were required to ensure property’s Gas Safety Records, Grade A fire alarm system certificates, emergency lighting certificates and a floor plan. A written tenancy agreement and photographic ID were also required.
Councillor Nabeela Mowlana, Labour’s Spokesperson for Housing, said:
“There’s great need to tackle the poor standards of private rented housing, in Sheffield and across the country. Our landlord licensing pilot in Abbeydale Road, Chesterfield Road and London Road has driven up housing standards and led to some unfit landlords being barred from renting houses.
“I’m keen to see the lessons from this learnt, and a wider rollout of landlord licensing so that we can improve standards acr”
Landlords were required to pass a Fit and Proper Person test, with requirements including being free from criminal convictions, they have no unspent convictions, have no practiced discrimination relating to protected characteristics. Through the scheme, one management company was deemed to be not Fit and Proper and had their licence turned down, and one landlord was prosecuted for serious housing safety offences and had a financial penalty imposed. In total, 65 civil penalties were issued to 33 different individuals and 5 management agencies for various failures in their housing management; seven prosecutions totalling 17 offences were sought; and a total of 207 informal notices and 190 formal notices were served on unfit landlords.
Throughout the scheme the following hazards were identified:
- Fire Safety (142 hazards)
- Falls on stairs (103)
- Falls between levels (54)
- Damp and mould (43)
- Excess cold (25)
- Electrical hazards (22)
- Collision and entrapment (18)
- Food safety (18)
- Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage (17)
Upon scheme competition the report states that ‘as landlords had complied with the scheme and carried out works as required, there was no further evidence of extensive poor property condition’, and further that landlords who the council has “fit and proper” concerns about are now known to the service and their working practices can now be monitored across the city.