Drop in nuisance reports

A COUNCIL is winning the war with anti-social tenants after revealing a huge drop in the number of nuisance incidents.

A five-month inquiry by Hartlepool Borough Council’s Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Forum into the effectiveness of private sector housing schemes has discussed selective licensing, landlord accreditation, good tenant schemes and policies for dealing with empty homes.

During the course of the current financial year, more than 60 notices have been served to tackle nuisance caused by people in occupied properties and there has been a dramatic decline in the number of complaints received about nuisance properties – from 99 in the first quarter of the year to 48 in the last.

During its inquiry, the forum heard that over the last financial year 66 empty properties have been brought back into use by their owners – against a target of 57.

Major progress has also been made by the Council in tackling a list of 20 properties which have been empty the longest. In almost all cases, their owners have now either brought them back into use, have firm plans to do so or are facing action by the council to compel them to do so.

In terms of the selective licensing scheme, 43 licences have been issued to landlords in the town’s selective licensing areas in 2011-12, taking the total number licensed to 569, and more than 200 inspections have been made of licensed properties to ensure landlords maintain their properties to the required standards.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of the Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Forum, said: “I would like to commend the council and its partners on the considerable strides which are being made to make life better for private sector housing tenants in Hartlepool.

“I would also like to acknowledge the very positive contribution being made by the many responsible private landlords in the town.

“We are making progress but we still have much to do and face many challenges and we must ensure that we maintain all our efforts.”

Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The council and its partners across the town remain absolutely committed to doing everything we can to work with landlords and tenants to improve private sector housing conditions.

“We always aim to achieve this by mutual agreement but we can – and do – use tough enforcement action when the need arises and at present we are preparing 68 cases for potential court action against landlords who do not adhere to the selective licence conditions.”

A meeting will take place tomorrow to formalise a report into improving conditions for private sector housing tenants in Hartlepool.

The Forum will meet again tomorrow at 4.30pm in Committee Room B of Civic Centre to formalise its final report. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

• FOR a street by street breakdown of problems see Wednesday’s Hartlepool Mail