All private rented homes in Boston are set to be licenced as council bosses look to tackle issues with safety and overcrowding.
Members of Boston Borough Council’s cabinet gave the green light for a new £2 million-plus licensing scheme to be drawn up after fears of a string of problems with the town’s private rented sector.
Landlords will pay £490 per home or £800 for a house of multiple occupation (HMO) – with councillors able to inspect them to make sure they are safe and place conditions on the licence to crackdown on issues such as anti-social behaviour and litter.
At the cabinet meeting on Wednesday Coun Mike Gilbert said the licensing plan was the key thing the council could do to combat issues raised by last year’s ‘immigration inquiry’. Coun Gilbert added: “Clearly this is not a cheap option. It is going to cost money to set up but the cost is fully recoverable – it must wash its own face.”
The cabinet was shown figures which suggest the town suffers the highest level of crime and fly-tipping for its ‘family group’ of councils.
The stats said that half of all pre-1944 homes have serious ‘category one’ hazards and that only three HMOs are licensed under the current rules – despite estimates suggesting there are 600.
Coun Carol Taylor raised fears that the cost of the licence could be passed on to tenants – with rents in Boston already 20 per cent higher than in the rest of the county despite the fact that wages are 10 per cent lower than the next lowest in Lincolnshire.
Council head of housing Andy Fisher said the cost over five years was ‘perfectly reasonable’ and could come out of landlords’ profits – with the sector worth about £30 million.
Coun Derek Richmond said: “This is what the borough needs. It gives protection to landlords, the council and also the occupiers.”