The selective licensing scheme which Hastings Borough Council has operated in a number of wards of the town over the past five years, will expire on 24th October. 

The council consulted with local stakeholders before the March lockdown this year, and came up with a slightly modified scheme for renewal excluding Ore ward – click here. It then applied to the Ministry
of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) accordingly. But due to “delays caused by COVID-19”, the Ministry has not yet reviewed the council’s submission. 

Under the Housing Act 2004 any new licensing scheme can only begin at least three months after MHCLG approval is given – so, at earliest, that won’t be until some time in the new year.

Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing and homelessness, said:  “It is regrettable that the Ministry have not been able to review the proposals for the new selective licensing scheme in sufficient time for the council to introduce our new scheme immediately following the end of the old scheme. This not only leaves tenants without the protection from rogue landlords that licensing provides, but also leaves the majority of landlords who provide good, safe secure, warm accommodation in Hastings in limbo.”

This …leaves tenants without the protection from rogue landlords that licensing provides

The council is nevertheless encouraging landlords to continue to  comply with the conditions on their existing licences while waiting for a response from the MHCLG. And, while there will presumably be a temporary loss of income resulting from the inability of the council to grant new licences during the period of practical suspension, a council spokesperson has denied that this will lead to a significant financial shortfall or to any shedding of jobs in its housing department. The business plan for the 2015 scheme allowed, he said, for staff to continue after the end of the scheme for six months to ‘finish’ it, including on-going enforcement activities and audits.

“We are still confident that the new scheme will be confirmed by the Secretary of State for commencement in 2021”, the spokesperson added. “If it is not confirmed, then the council will consider other necessary arrangements for the continued protection of vulnerable tenants in the private rented sector.”

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