COMMUNITY groups are demanding the compulsory registration of private landlords following complaints about noise, mess, drug misuse and anti social behaviour from some tenants.

Sedgefield Residents' Federation plans to launch a petition calling on the Government to make it a legal requirement for landlords to sign up to an accreditation scheme.

The federation, made up of community groups and residents associations from across the former Sedgefield borough, has heard many distressing tales from tenants and neighbours whose lives have been blighted by rogue landlords failing to fulfil their duties.

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It follows calls from MPs to give local authorities tougher powers to impose fines on landlords who refuse to bring substandard properties up to scratch or fail to join accreditation schemes.

Ken Robson, chair of Acorn Residents Association in Newton Aycliffe, said a property let by a distant landlord on his estate had become a source of fear.

“The police have been involved as it was being used to grow cannabis,” he said.

“This has attracted youths and anti-social behaviour and the people who live nearby are too scared to complain in case their windows get smashed.

“We know the majority of tenants are law abiding people but the bad apples can make people’s lives a misery.”

Christine Hall, secretary of of Castles Residents' Association in Ferryhill, said a compulsory scheme would also protect vulnerable tenants.

It is estimated around 16 per cent of the 185,000 private sector homes in County Durham are owned by private landlords.

Durham County Council has designated Dean Bank in Ferryhill, Chilton West, and the Wembley Area of Easington Colliery selective licensing areas, where landlords face being fined if they fail to buy a licence.

Shirley Janes, private sector housing manager at Durham County Council, said a Private Landlord Accreditation Scheme had also been set up in South Moor and New Kyo in the north of the county.

“This is a voluntary scheme for private landlords to sign-up to a code of practice to ensure their properties are managed properly,” she said.

“If successful, it will be rolled out across County Durham.”

Geoff Darkes, of Spennymoor Town Police and Community Together Group and Greenways Residents' Association, said voluntary schemes were a step in the right direction but not enough.

He plans to lobby the Government for compulsory accreditation and is calling on other residents’ groups to support the campaign.

To get involved, contact