Under the selective licensing scheme operated by Hastings Borough Council (HBC), private landlords in chosen areas of the town pay a one-off licence fee to the council, currently £665, for each self-contained property let to residential tenants. The fee covers the council’s costs of administering and enforcing regulations made under the scheme. The stated aim is to reduce anti-social behaviour of tenants by improving their housing conditions and the management practices of landlords. 

Licences are only awarded where the council is satisfied that the landlord is a “fit and proper person” to take responsibility for the letting, that any anti-social behaviour (ASB) by tenants will be adequately restrained, and that the property concerned conforms with requirements for gas and electrical maintenance, is protected against fire hazards, and is otherwise in a satisfactory state of repair.

Since 2015 the following wards have been covered by the scheme:

• Braybrooke
• Castle
• Central St Leonards
• Gensing
• Ore
• Old Hastings
• Tressell.

Approximately 45% of homes in these areas are in the private rented sector, compared to the national average of 19%, and that proportion, according to HBC surveys, is continuing to grow.

In a report on the licensing scheme issued last November headed “progress and future options”, the council concluded that the number of privately tenanted homes in the licensed areas has grown from 9,580 to 10,257, and that the scheme was “making a positive impact on conditions”, especially in relation to ASB, while not having any negative effect.

Ore ward was, however, identified as having a lower level of non-decent homes than each of the other six wards, the highest average energy efficiency levels, and the lowest number of empty homes.  The level of ASB was also below average, and housing-related complaints extremely
low. Accordingly, Ore has been excluded from the areas for licence renewal in this year’s application to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, so that in future a larger proportion of properties in the other six wards can be inspected and more hazards identified.  “Ultimately [this] should lead to the improvement of more dwellings together with better quality management of the private rented sector”, the council report concluded.

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