PROBLEM PROPERTIES: Plans unveiled to hold landlords to account for problem properties
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Middlesbrough Council have unveiled plans to hold problem landlords to account for poor housing conditions.
A joint push to sort out empty run-down homes across Middlesbrough has been revealed. Forward plans for Middlesbrough Council show the authority is to join forces with the Redcar-based Ethical Housing Company to invest in the refurbishment of poor quality vacant properties in TS1 and TS3.
The agreement is set to be rubber-stamped by council chiefs next month when more details are expected to be unveiled.
Newport, North Ormesby, and the town’s central ward are among the areas to be targeted by the venture.
The Ethical Housing Company was founded by Carla Keegans alongside the Ethical Lettings Agency, which lets and manages properties for private landlords.
The firm was launched in 2018 and has a portfolio of more than 60 properties at the moment.
The community interest company (CIC) helps people and families in housing need to find affordable homes – including those affected by homelessness.
The EHC, a sister company of the lettings agency, buys up properties – with its website stating its “sole purpose” is to provide homes for people in housing need across the Teesside private rental market.
Cllr Ashley Waters, executive member for regeneration, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the EHC would work “hand-in-hand” with the council.
He added: “We blame the landlords for empty properties, look at the state areas get left in, and how the people who get put in these houses get no support.
“This is about being able to go in and get these homes to what we call a “social housing standard”.
“We’ll then be able to support people in the area with good housing and good rates to improve the area.
“If you look at certain streets in Newport and North Ormesby the amount of empty houses brings these areas down.
“If we can bring these houses up to standard, get rid of the broken windows and boarded up homes – it brings the whole area up.”
The council’s selective landlord licensing scheme will restart in North Ormesby next month in addition to the zone covered by Newport.
The programme aims to tackle troubles with poor living conditions and high numbers of empty properties – and to ensure private landlords are “fit and proper” people.
The member for North Ormesby said the partnership with the EHC would make taxpayers’ money go further.
Cllr Waters said: “If we’ve got £500,000 to spend and they can put in £500,000, then we can do double with the same amount of money.
“It means instead of buying 10 houses, we can buy 20 – or renovate 200 instead of 100.
He added: “It’s better for the council taxpayer of Middlesbrough because we’re only spending half a million pounds (for example) for £1m of work.”
There are hundreds of empty properties across Middlesbrough and the executive member said the plan was designed to work alongside the building projects being worked on by social housing giant Thirteen.
A push to move council staff out into wards as part of what has been called “Locality working” is also underway in North Ormesby and Newport.
“It’s a wider plan for the whole of Middlesbrough,” added Cllr Waters.
“We’re not saying to landlords “we’re going to buy these properties off you”, or use compulsory purchase orders.
“What we’re saying is, where we can, we’re going to improve areas.
“If they want to leave theirs looking like they do, they can but where we can act, we will to improve areas.
“It’s definitely not a threat to landlords – but where we’ve got locality working coming in, and these areas with selective licensing, this will altogether improve the area in leaps and bounds.
“We’re getting a partner on board with the same goals as us.”
The EHC has been contacted for comment on the proposed partnership.
By Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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