Lib Dems demand a licensing scheme – but opponents say the idea is ‘bonkers’

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Councillor Jeanette Sunderland Councillor Jeanette Sunderland

More should be done to end the misery caused by slum landlords, the Council’s Liberal Democrats have warned.

Bradford Council should introduce a licensing scheme for landlords to help drive up standards in the private rented sector, according to group leader, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland.

But this idea has been rejected by the ruling Labour group and dismissed as “bonkers” by the Tories, who said tenants would ultimately foot the bill for any such scheme.

Coun Sunderland spoke out about the issue at a meeting of the full Council yesterday, where the authority’s new Housing and Homelessness Strategy was being discussed. The strategy, drawn up with the help of the Bradford Housing Partnership, has four main aims: l To provide more homes to meet the needs of a growing population; l To tackle poor-quality housing and the blight of empty homes; l To make sure homes are affordable and that people can also afford to heat them; l To support independence and prevent homelessness.

But Coun Sunderland tabled an amendment calling for the authority to get tougher on irresponsible landlords by setting up a landlord accreditation scheme. She said while her group welcomed the new strategy, it didn’t go far enough.

She said: “There are still people living in unfit properties with poor landlords that have to be tackled and there are communities that do not feel safe.”

Councillor Val Slater, Labour’s executive member for housing, called the idea “a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

She provoked laughter by adding: “Yes, I agree we have a few nuts we need dealing with, but we have got other ways of dealing with them.”

She said the authority took irresponsible landlords to court, and urged people to report specific concerns to the housing team.

Coun Sunderland took the comment in good humour, saying: “I’ve often been called a nut.”

Councillor Simon Cooke, housing spokesman for the Conservative group, said the cost of any such licensing scheme would have to be met by landlords, who would in turn pass it on to their tenants.

He told councillors: “It doesn’t solve the problem, it just makes the problem worse. I would urge you to reject that, it’s just utterly bonkers.”

Coun Sunderland’s amendment to the Housing and Homelessness Strategy was unsuccessful when it was taken to a vote, and the original strategy was approved.

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