Council proposes to set up own letting agency
Leeds City Council could set up its own letting agency alongside other proposals to improve housing conditions in the private rented sector.
A recommendation to establish a council-run letting scheme for private landlords is being put to councillors on the executive board when they meet on Wednesday 9 March.
The proposed letting agency would offer a full service to landlords including everything from tenancy agreements, inventories, inspections and advertising to repairs and maintenance.
It builds on an existing scheme that the council already offers, matching prospective tenants and landlords. The council also inspects properties to ensure they are up to standard and covers costs such as up front bonds and costs for damage.
With privately rented homes increasingly meeting the city’s housing needs, the council is keen to ensure that these are safe, quality homes.
It’s estimated that there are over 58,000 privately rented properties in Leeds. The largest growth area is in the lower end of the market where the poorest conditions are found.
Other recommendations being considered by executive board include:
- Establishing the Leeds Rental Standard for existing members of landlord accreditation schemes and associations who already provide good standards to self-regulate by committing to maintaining and improving standards of properties and the service provided to tenants
- Setting up a rogue landlord unit dedicated to tackling a minority of landlords known to be avoiding their legal duties
- Expanding the Leeds Neighbourhood Approach in the Holbeck area to target poor quality rented and empty properties
- Developing proposals for a selective licensing scheme so areas with poor housing conditions, anti-social behaviour and other issued can be addressed
- Charging landlords to cover costs when the council has to take enforcement to ensure landlords remove hazards, are registered on the property redress scheme or breach other regulations.
Councillor Debra Coupar, executive member for communities, said:
“The proposals executive board are being asked to consider would put us in a far better position to help ensure there is supply of affordable, warm, welcoming and safe homes to rent on the private market with support through our own letting agency and targeted enforcement.
“The proposed agency would be of particular interest to people who have yet to build up the knowledge and experience you need to become a responsible landlord.
“Separately, if the recommendations for landlords we know are already keeping and striving towards improved housing conditions to self-regulate are approved, we can far more effectively target those who consistently fail to meet even minimum standards. We know there are those who are deliberately avoiding their responsibilities by letting out sub-standard properties in the pursuit of profit.
“If agreed, we could also reduce the financial impact of enforcing against these rogue landlords by introducing charges when we have to take action for safety breaches.
“Tackling poor conditions in privately rented accommodation and empty homes on a street-by-street basis with our Leeds Neighbourhood Approach has already seen major improvements. Expanding this in Holbeck, exploring options for selective licensing and the other recommendations we’re being asked to approve represent a comprehensive package that will allow us to vastly improve conditions in the private rented sector.”
The report to executive board can be found on the council's website.