A Labour-run council in Brighton and Hove would seek to launch a new licensing scheme to crack down on rogue landlords.
Labour in Brighton and Hove have unveiled plans to licence private sector landlords in a move they say will “strengthen tenants’ rights” and “root out unscrupulous landlords”.
The licensing system, which has been launched in a small number of other local authorities across the country, would see landlords pay a “small” fee for a five year licence to rent out properties.
Opposition councillors questioned the effectiveness of the scheme pointing to trials elsewhere in the country which had found the scheme to be “costly”, “ineffective” and “open to legal challenge”.
Labour’s housing spokeswoman Chaun Wilson said that landlords would have to demonstrate their ability to maintain their property to “pre-agreed standards” to the council before being granted a licence.
The council would have the power to fine landlords who fail to register with the scheme and recover any rents or housing benefits paid while a property was not licensed.
The party say they want to build on the success of the current HMO licensing scheme in the city and the rental licensing scheme in areas such as Newham in London where the council has successfully taken action against more than 100 landlords since February 2013.
The city has one of the highest proportion of renters in the country with almost three in ten of the city’s private housing stock on the rental market.
A recent HSBC report, showed that the city has the highest yields for buy-to-let investors in the country.
Labour have said the plans would go out to public consultation should they win the 2015 election.
Councillor Wilson said: ‘With the largest private rented sector in England outside London, it is only right we look at measures to strengthen tenants rights and protect them from poor quality housing.
“Building on the proposals previously announced by Ed Miliband this would bring much needed stability and security to those living in the private rented sector and again demonstrates the positive difference electing a Labour Government in 2015 would bring to people living in Brighton and Hove."
Conservative housing spokesman Garry Peltzer Dunn said the jury was very much still out on universal licensing in the private rented sector.
He said: “Both Manchester and Milton Keynes carried out trials recently but concluded that it was costly and ineffective at tackling rogue landlords and could also be open to legal challenge.
“Where it has been introduced in the London Borough of Newham the scheme is very expensive to run and does not break even despite landlords being charged £500 for a license.
“We all want to see the small minority of rogue landlords brought to book but there is a real danger that the cost and additional red tape will simply drive good landlords away.”