Neighbours angry at street being branded ‘problem area’

Unhappy Furness Street residents
Unhappy Furness Street residents

RESIDENTS have voiced their anger at their street being included in a new scheme designed to tackle bad landlords.

Furness Street is one of 13 roads in town that have been included in a new Selective Licensing Scheme.

The scheme requires private landlords in those streets to pay £500 for a licence to operate from Hartlepool Borough Council.

But while the scheme has been welcomed by residents in other areas, people in Furness Street say they do not want it.

They say the stigma of selective licensing will drive down property prices and feel it will not solve problems of anti-social behaviour and properties getting run down.

But the council says previous selective licensing schemes, together with other measures, have helped tackle yobbish behaviour and say there is no proof house prices have been affected.

Furness Street resident John Swift said: “The council has done very little to prevent what’s going on in this street.

“Manchester had selective licensing but they scrapped it.

“With the licensing, people know it’s a problem area. It has driven property prices down.

“It is the people who own our properties who are the losers.

“The council is just not listening to people.

“We had a petition against selective licensing but it fell on deaf ears.

“If it is that good why don’t they roll it out across the town and make it voluntary.”

Retired scaffolder Joe Hall, 66, who has lived in the street for 25 years added: “We have worked hard to get these places. These are our little nest eggs for our retirement.

“I am totally against selective licensing. I would like to see the properties improved and make the street look good.”

Selective licensing does not prevent landlords putting potential problem tenants into properties but it does require them to get references.

But resident David Bryant, 43, said: “It should be mandatory to make landlords responsible for the people they are bringing into the streets.

“The only winner is the council that is going to get £500 from the landlords.”

Mr Bryant also questioned why conditions relating to electrical safety and providing carbon monoxide detectors were taken out by the council.

A council spokesman said: “We believe that selective licensing, such as the scheme that previously operated in Hartlepool, has proved effective in regulating the activities of amateur and unprofessional landlords and managing agents and, alongside other initiatives and services, has helped to tackle anti-social behaviour by tenants.

“There is certainly no evidence in Hartlepool that selective licensing has driven down property prices.

“Any suggestion that the proposed scheme is a money-making exercise is completely wrong because all licence fee income will be used to fund its administration.

“In relation to Furness Street, the petition submitted by residents was taken into account when drawing up the proposed new scheme.

“It is also important to note that as part of our consultation exercise a questionnaire along with a pre-paid envelope was hand delivered to every household in the street, and of the eight replies received all were in favour of the proposed new scheme.

“Our proposed selective licensing scheme did originally include conditions relating to electrical installation condition reports, carbon monoxide alarms and energy performance certificates but these were taken out following a successful legal challenge to a scheme elsewhere in the country by an agent who appealed similar conditions applied to his licence.”