In response to Mrs Wendy Graham, could we clarify a few of the points she raised which may not be obvious?
Burnley landlords never thought “Licensing came in on a whim”. It may well have taken years of lobbying to introduce. No doubt some residents from private and rented properties in the Trinity ward have experienced anti-social behaviour and lived with poorly maintained neighbouring properties as elsewhere.
However, the reality is: professional investors are unlikely to buy run-down properties without also investing money in refurbishing and upgrading, particularly if the main aim is to obtain a profitable return. Neither would the majority of potential and experienced landlords risk losing a good investment return on the capital involved by knowingly allowing undesirable tenants (usually already local to the area) to occupy the property, cause damage and potentially not pay the rent.
Some of the properties in poor condition may well not be owned by experienced, professional Burnley landlords but by private owners as well as the inexperienced “would-be landlord” who are in the minority of owners of this type of property. These owners may well now realise that without sufficient additional investment by Burnley Council they would be throwing good money after bad in trying to increase substantially the value of their investment when some of the areas still appear to be in decline.
We did not say landlords have played no part in the demise of the neighbourhood, more that a combination of the lack of investment from Burnley Council and a mix of some private owners, social landlords and novice private landlords seemed to have helped in the ward’s demise in some areas.
To assume anyone would pay even £15,000 of good money for a property and leave it to rot or knowingly allow dodgy tenants to ruin the investment to gain little or no return shows a remarkable lack of business acumen.
The proverbial “neighbours from hell” also referred to could equally come from a private owner or social landlord that has acquired the property, as well as an inexperienced, would-be landlord, who we would suggest are in the minority of Burnley landlords. This is confirmed to some extent by the lack of prosecutions made by Burnley Council over the past five years of the previous licensing in the Trinity ward.
Why should anyone now imagine another five years of licensing and another £850,000 in fees levied on the majority of good landlords, (who are providing quality housing for decent tenants) will change Trinity ward to the benefit of all concerned?
The truth is landlords have never had “a free rein” (as suggested) particularly when Burnley Council have always had adequate powers to deal effectively with any private owner or rogue landlord, they never needed licensing to solve this problem, just adequate investment and a knowledge of the real problems. As many other authorities have voted against landlord licensing, maybe the income being generated by the council when £3m. of budget cuts are needed elsewhere was too much of a temptation?
For Burnley Council to now impose such huge costs of £850,000 in licensing fees on small local business in the current financial climate is at least questionable, when other powers are clearly available to deal with the minority of problem owners, whoever they are and wherever they live.
If landlord licensing also gets approved for the Gannow and Queensgate Wards again for many of the wrong reasons we can expect Burney Council to receive around a further £800,000 in additional funding. That’s £1.65m. in non-negotiable fees that could now have to be charged to tenants via their rent, courtesy of Burnley Council.
There are good private owners and tenants of private landlords who have always been in the majority and know how to live peacefully and look after their properties; we just need Burnley Council to deal with the minority in both camps for the benefit of the rest of us, but not by licensing!