A SCHEME which aims to drive up standards in the private housing sector and improve communities across County Durham will be considered by senior council members.

Earlier this year, Durham County Council held public consultation on proposals to introduce a selective licensing scheme in areas of the county to set a good-quality and fair standard for private rental properties in the area.

Selective licensing is one of the key priorities in the County Durham Housing Strategy 2019 to 2024 targeted to maintain and improve standards and put people and communities first.

The housing plan will also continue to address the issues around empty homes and continue to invest in existing stock through projects such as improving the energy efficiency of properties.

The scheme will make a contribution to regenerating the county’s towns and villages by improving both housing conditions and access to quality housing.

The proposed scheme will cover approximately 30,000 houses, 42 per cent of the county’s private rented sector.

Selective licensing aims to help create long term, sustainable neighbourhoods by ensuring that any privately rented property is in good condition and well managed, protecting both residents and tenants alike and prosecuting those landlords who do not comply.

Currently, the council relies on complaints and requests from tenants, or other residents, for issues to come to light and action to be taken.

Selective licensing allows for a pro-active, multi-agency approach where enforcement action can be taken against owners of unlicensed properties and where breaches of licensing conditions are identified.

The scheme will also enable additional support to landlords to be provided in managing their properties by assisting with support and accessing training and compliance.

The scheme will mean landlords must apply for a licence, at the cost of £500, and ensure their properties meet the standards set out by the scheme.

The licence will last for five years and the council will set a charge that the landlord must pay for each rental property they own.

The scheme is expected to be introduced in April 2021.

The introduction of a selective licensing scheme will be discussed by the cabinet in a virtual meeting on Wednesday, September 16.