A new membership scheme will see Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council work with landlords to improve private rented housing standards in two areas of the Borough.
And landlords who fail to join it are being warned they’ll face ‘a robust inspection regime’ and ‘immediate action’ if they’re found to be flouting their responsibilities.
The scheme will be led by the PLuSS (Private Landlords Supporting Stockton) group, which consists of more than 100 landlords in Central Stockton and North Thornaby.
To join, landlords must agree to a Code of Conduct written by the Council to set out how they will handle things like complaints, tenant vetting and anti-social behaviour.
The approach was given the green light at a meeting of the Council’s Cabinet last week.
Council Leader, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “This new membership scheme will build on the encouraging progress being made in these areas by the respective Central Stockton and North Thornaby Community Partnerships.
“The partnerships have brought together the Council, police, fire brigade, big landlords like Thirteen, and voluntary organisations to work with local people with the simple aim of making these areas better places to live.
“A number of initiatives, including clean-ups and transforming alleyways into clean and colourful community spaces, have already had a positive impact. Now we want to take this further and work with PLuSS to drive up standards in the private rented sector.
“The majority of private landlords are responsible and willing to work together with us to make these areas better places to live. Collectively, the landlords who make up PLuSS own around two-thirds of the private sector housing stock in these two areas.
“But unfortunately there are still some who continue to flout their responsibilities by not taking care of their properties and failing to manage their tenants properly and ultimately they bring these areas down.”
Landlords in the two areas will now be invited to apply to join the new membership scheme with a view to it becoming operational next month.
“We want all private landlords to buy into this and we’ll be challenging those who don’t,” said Councillor Cook. “Of course, all members will be subjected to inspection but we will be prioritising inspections of properties owned by landlords who don’t join.
“And if we find their standards to be unacceptable, we will take action. Our priority here is the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents.”