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Citywide landlord licensing: ACORN call for wider scheme

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ACORN members with a stall outside Town Hall

The renters' union ACORN has launched a campaign to widen the Selective Licensing scheme already in place around London and Abbeydale Roads to cover the entire city.

The current scheme requires landlords in the designated area to pay up to £1,000 and demonstrate that their property is "safe and well managed".

"This is a really basic ask that should seem common sense to most people," campaigner Rohan Kon told Now Then.

"You wouldn't get in an unlicensed taxi or eat from a restaurant without good food hygiene standards, so why should housing be different?" she said.

The licence would only work out at around £3 to £4 per week for landlords

The London Road scheme was introduced after a council survey found that three quarters of privately-rented homes in the area may contain Category 1 hazards, which represent a serious and immediate threat to human health.

A similar scheme in Page Hall is due to end in April after a five year period.

"The selective schemes have introduced some protection for tenants, with £1m of repairs being forced in Page Hall alone," said Kon.

"But only last month one of our members and his family, who live just outside the licensing area, called for the help of ACORN because their landlord had forced them to live without a kitchen for six weeks, in a mouldy house with exposed gas pipes and crumbling ceilings."

ACORN are campaigning for the scheme to be widened to cover the entire city, arguing that the city's private rented market "leaves tenants exposed to cowboy landlords and insecurity."

The group have been collecting signatures on Fargate, as well as online.

Kon described the public reaction as overwhelmingly positive. "The licence would only work out at around £3 to £4 per week for landlords, which is a small price to pay for the safety and wellbeing of their tenants."

Newham Council were the first local authority in the UK to introduce blanket landlord licensing for all privately rented homes in the London borough.

The Sheffield and District Landlord Association has been approached for comment.

Sam Gregory

The ACORN petition for citywide landlord licensing.

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ACORN members collecting signatures

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