Words by Ed King
Stockland Green and Gravelly Hill are amongst 25 political wards across Birmingham set for a new Selective Licensing Scheme, to curb the rise of unruly HMOs and rogue landlords.
Overseen by Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness for Birmingham City Council (BCC), the scheme was recently approved by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – under the Housing Act 2004.
From 5 June 2023, landlords will have to apply for licences for privately rented accommodation, costing £700 for each property for five years and carrying various requirements and commitments.
Birmingham’s new Selective Licensing Scheme will be the largest in the country, covering up to 50,000 properties – implemented in wards with over 20% rented through the private sector and ‘high levels of deprivation and/or crime’.
Alongside Erdington, other North Birmingham wards included in the scheme are Aston, Lozells, Handsworth, and Ward End.
Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “This is about supporting tenants and communities and we have received widespread support for the scheme.
“Good, responsible landlords in Stockland Green, Gravelly Hill and across the 25 Birmingham wards covered have nothing to fear from the Selective Licensing Scheme, but we’re calling time on rogue landlords who exploit tenants and blight communities.”
Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton added: “The rollout of a selective licensing scheme in Stockland Green and Gravelly Hill is a welcome step forward. This scheme will help the council drive up standards in private rented properties, including Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), allowing them to tackle anti-social behaviour and hold rogue landlords to account.
“Far too often we see badly run private rented properties causing misery in our community, with rogue landlords putting profits before the legal responsibilities they have towards their tenants. This scheme will help put some of those issues right.”
However, despite being introduced to tackle the problems often caused by private landlords converting houses into HMOs, and poorly managed private rentals creating dangerous living environments or exacerbating anti-social behaviour, the scheme does not include exempt accommodation.
Exempt accommodation are a ‘supported living’ dwellings, often housing adults with additional needs – such as those living with severe mental health issues, where the landlord is paid directly from the Department of Work and Pensions in exchange for providing adequate care and assistance for their tenants.
Exempt from the ceiling charges that can be placed on standard state support, such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, landlords of exempt accommodations have been found to charge in excess of £200 per tenant, per week – with many failing in their agreed duty of care.
Cllr Jane Jones (Labour, Stockland Green), told Erdington Local: “For some years local residents have aired their concerns over the loss of family homes as they are converted to houses of multiple occupation including exempt properties.
“The new registration scheme will require all private landlords to register their properties and ensure that they provide good quality housing and the support their tenants deserve.
“I will continue to push for a change in the law so that exempt properties are also required to have their properties licenced by the Council.”
Cllr Mick Brown (Labour, Gravelly Hill) added: “While I am disappointed that this does not include exempt accommodation, because the legislation doesn’t classify exempt accommodation as being in the private rented sector; I am pleased that Birmingham City Council has introduced one of the biggest licencing schemes for landlords.
“This is good news for residents across Gravelly Hill as it will require all private landlords to register to rent out homes; and it’s positive to see that this will include houses and apartments as well as HMO’s, and make it easier for the Council to take action against bad landlords.”
Erdington Local also approached Cllr Amar Khan (Labour, Stockland Green) for comment, but at the time of writing has received no reply.
Until recently, Mr Khan has been a director of two companies whose nature of business are registered at Companies House as being the ‘renting and operating of Housing Association real estate’.
Select Homes (UK) Limited and Select Estates Properties Limited are both registered at 200 Slade Road, Stockland Green – with Mr Khan resigning from his role as director from the companies on 15 January ’22 and 10 July ’22 respectively.
Mr Amar Khan was elected as the Labour Party councillor for Stockland Green in May 2022, representing the ward alongside Ms Jane Jones.