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Friday, 11 July 2014

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Carlisle landlords face targeted inspections

PRIVATE landlords face targeted inspections in a bid to bring rental properties up to scratch.

Carlisle City Council has drawn up a new enforcement policy to make sure privately rented accommodation is safe and meets minimum standards.

It comes as latest figures show that 21 per cent of the 7,160 private rented homes across the city contain a ‘Category One Hazard’ – the most serious type.

And more than 34 per cent are classed as ‘non-decent’ under the Decent Homes Standard.

The council’s Private Sector Housing Stock Condition survey also revealed that 86 per cent of the district’s homes were in the private sector.

And 14.5 per cent of the total stock was owned and managed by landlords from the private sector.

A separate survey showed that private rented accommodation is likely to meet future need for affordable housing.

It also revealed that the private sector housed 463 households in housing need between 2009 and 2010.

With the pattern set to continue, the council says private landlords must meet legal standards and make sure the supply continues to meet housing needs.

In a report to its scrutiny committee, the authority said it has launched a ‘”significant change of programme” which includes a targeted proactive engagement and inspection of private landlords.

It is also carrying out a review of its existing landlord accreditation scheme.

The aim of the scheme is to promote good standards and management practice among landlords. But the council is unable to confirm standards are being met within the code of practice because of the way the scheme works.

Margaret Miller, Carlisle City Council’s housing and health manager, said the new enforcement policy will protect vulnerable tenants.

She added that it will ensure a “consistent, proportionate and transparent approach to private sector housing enforcement”.

At a meeting of the scrutiny panel, committee member Lee Sherriff said it was important that information about housing standards was simplified and widely available to tenants.

The panel also recommended that current council legislation regarding shared properties is re-examined to make sure it is a sustainable system.

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