More than 4,850 issues including missing smoke alarms, extreme humidity and missing windows have been identified and corrected since the scheme was launched amid some controversy in January 2019.
Another 36 owners are still under investigation, and at least 24 of them have had their licenses revoked, in an area of less than a square mile.
It comes as a report reveals that the council’s housing quality plummeted last year, with 15% of homes not meeting the decent home standards — up from 7% the year before — and more than 200 homes behind an electrical safety check by five years. .
Rod Green, who rents a house in the middle of the plot on the waterfront, described its owner as “excellent.”
“Even if you have a good landowner, things are missed and that way, he makes sure they are done,” he said.
Housing Inspections for £8.50 per month
The five-year scheme, called Selective Licensing, was introduced in January 2019 in the face of opposition from 94% of landlords and rental agencies surveyed.
The Great Yarmouth Borough Council said it would make it more difficult for unethical landlords to thrive, create a level playing field for ethical landlords, and improve the quality of life for residents across disadvantaged Nelson Ward.
The area outlined in the plan surrounds a roughly rectangular area of the pavilion, bounded on the east and west by the Sea and Yari, on the north by Regent Road and on the south by Dickens Street.
Portions of Middlegate, Nottingham Way and Tollhouse St have been excluded because they contain only council-owned property which is not subject to a selective licence.
Staff of the Council’s subcontractor The Home Safe Scheme (THSS) visit the properties, take photos, and complete a lengthy assessment.
Karl Agar, CEO of THSS, said: “GYBC operates one of, if not the, most successful licensing programs in the country compared to results achieved in other local authority areas.
“Out of approximately 1,350 property inspections carried out by THSS… more than 4,000 cases were identified with over 2,000 of them categorized as high priority issues such as missing smoke alarms.”
The project costs landlords £515 for five years, which equates to just over £8.50 a month, although owners have warned they will have no choice but to increase rents to cover the costs of the scheme.
A total of £67,500 in fines has so far been imposed despite legal questions earlier this year about the viability of the scheme, causing the Council to pause enforcement action.
A council spokesperson explained: “An inquiry was made about the classification process in early 2022, but subsequent legal advice confirmed that the scheme had been properly implemented.
“Where landlords continue to not communicate with us, we are now implementing law enforcement.”
Tenant consent stamp
Rob Green, 56, who lives with his family on Nelson Road Central, has nothing but good things to say about the homeowner, but he is nonetheless a fan of selective licensing.
“She’s done the work he needs to get done, she’s very fair with us. When we were on Lancaster Road [in a property owned by the same landlady] They checked, pulled it up on several things – there was a handrail that needed fixing, and an extractor fan in the downstairs toilet.
“I called her carpenter and electrician and got it all done right away.
“It shows that the scheme is good because even if you have a good landowner, some things are missed, and that way, he makes sure to get them done.”
Cristina de Almeida, 42, lives on nearby Oxboro Walk. She said: “They found nothing here but I know two of my neighbours, the owner had to set the record straight.
“It’s a good scheme, and it’s good to keep yourself safe. You don’t know what could happen if it wasn’t checked.”
Angels are still skeptical
Paul Cunningham, president of the Great Yarmouth chapter of the Eastern Owners Association, continues to criticize the scheme.
He said the council had promised it would level the playing field and improve the area, but after three and a half years there had been no criminal prosecutions of rogue landlords and no decrease in drug crime or antisocial behavior he could notice in the ward.
“The sheer banality of it is frustrating – there should be 300mm of counter space next to the oven when some characteristics don’t allow it.
“I was slammed over a lawn in the gutter, which doesn’t make a tenant’s life much different?
“Good landlords have no problem with environmental health or the council coming in for inspections, what we would object to is £500 for the privilege of having them at any time for the inspections.”
But he noted that the cost was borne by the tenants, adding: “Every landlord I know, their rents have gone up due to selective licensing.”
He criticized the “hypocrisy” of the town council for overburdening and threatening to impose fines on landlords, while failing to maintain their housing to the same standard.
A Great Yarmouth Borough Council spokesperson said: “Since the introduction of the selective licensing system for private rented homes in 2019, we have worked with hundreds of landlords to register and review properties to help ensure quality housing for residents.
“Following the introduction of the scheme, we initially focused on education rather than implementation. Where appropriate, the council will also use its powers to apply for rent payment orders, which will be an additional financial penalty as landlords choose not to work with us to provide quality housing to residents.”
Status of Great Yarmouth Council Residences
Its most recent annual audit, covering the year from July 2021 to June 2022, gives the council a failing score in those areas after the number of homes meeting the decent home standard fell from 93% to 85% last year — which means 865 of the 5,766 properties. She is below par.
The council attributed this to Covid, which made real estate more difficult to access and reduced capacity for contractors, and promised to spend more this year especially on upgrading windows and fire doors.
The audit also found 179 pending actions arising from fire risk assessments, with “nearly all” rated as low risk. Eight high-risk cases are scheduled to be completed during the month of July.
The Great Yarmouth Borough Council is holding a Landlords Forum on September 8 at 6pm in Town Hall, to answer questions and get feedback on the operation of the scheme.