I write in support of Councillor Richard Austin’s observation in your paper last week that the council’s proposed licensing scheme of all private rented housing in the borough “has every appearance of being a sledge hammer to crack a nut”.
The proposals appear to be completely ill-thought.
As the consultation document makes clear “the evidence base for Boston shows that it is smaller HMOs and homes rented by extended families that presents issues for Boston.” In which case, why is the council proposing to spend £2.5 million setting up a scheme to regulate the entire market instead of focusing on HMOs? Could this money not be more wisely spent?
It seems strange that the council is seeking to penalise every landlord and tenant in the borough in order to address the problems caused by a minority of people. It is clear that the additional costs and regulations will almost certainly lead to a significant increase in local rents. Given that the council spent £5.57 million on housing benefit in the private rented sector in 2012/13, this scheme may actually expose them to higher costs. It is also likely that many responsible landlords will choose to exit the housing market to the detriment of all.
Instead of introducing these damaging proposals, the council needs to think again. I would instead encourage them to reach a voluntary agreement with the sector and recognise that the rented market as a whole is working well.
Swineshead (former councillor)