HOUSING activists say council plans to license landlords in small areas of the city do not go far enough.

In its city plan, Brighton and Hove City Council has pledged to bring in “selective landlord licensing” in the next three years in a bid to bolster renters’ rights.

This would require landlords to declare any convictions for dishonesty or violence and any past breaches of housing law before they are given permission to rent out property.

Landowners would also have to ensure their property meets fire, electric and gas safety standards.

But last week housing chief Gill Williams said the council was looking into a small scheme that would cover less than 20 per cent of Brighton and Hove, prompting anger from renters’ union Acorn.

“Around a third of all residents of our city now live in rental properties. They need urgent action now, and Acorn will not stop pushing for it,” chairman Sam Dunnett said.

“Many landlords will, unfortunately, oppose any attempt to properly regulate the private rental market.

“But the council needs to show that it is on the side of tenants on this issue.”

One renter, who wished to remain anonymous, said introducing stricter licences for landlords was the city council’s “legal and moral responsibility”.

“My last landlord had illegally sub-let the property to me and when this came to light, he harassed me out of the property,” the Acorn member said.

“Had he been properly licensed, he’d never have been allowed to act with criminal dishonesty and he would have been held accountable for his illegal actions.

“I firmly believe it is the council’s legal and moral responsibility to ensure all renters of Brighton and Hove are fully protected from illegitimate landlords.”

But a city council spokesman said it was drawing up a smaller scheme because larger licensing bids had proved controversial.

If a council wants to apply to license landlords in more than 20 per cent of its area, it must apply to the Government for permission.

But despite 29 cities in the UK making successful bids for wider landlord licensing, Brighton and Hove City Council’s most recent bid was not approved.

“Our previous application was turned down by the Secretary of State and subject to a robust legal challenge by landlord organisations,” a city council spokesman said.

“We are now looking at proposals for a smaller scheme which does not require Secretary of State approval based in the areas of most concern.

“We can only introduce schemes in areas where there is sufficient evidence of specific issues it would help address.

“Not all areas in the city will meet this criteria.”