ABC: Landlord garden responsibility sought

ABC: Landlord garden responsibility sought

Councillor Sam Nicholson

Adam Morton

Reporter:

Adam Morton

Email:

Adam.Morton@jpress.co.uk

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s environmental services committee is to write to the communities minister in an attempt to highlight the need to ensure landlords are held responsible for the condition of gardens in their rental properties.

Speaking during a discussion of the Department for Communities consultation on its proposed revamp of the amount of time landlords have to give tenants before serving a notice to quit, Councillor Sam Nicholson asked if further measures could be included in the proposed legislation to ensure landlords are responsible for the condition of their property’s front and back gardens.

“With regards to administrative role of landlords, is there any element where landlords can be held to account for the condition of their gardens, front and back. It is an issue in lots of areas,” said Cllr Nicholson.

“In a lot of cases landlords or tenants don’t maintain or look after gardens in properties and they are allowed to become overgrown and fill with debris. This gives rise to the potential for these gardens to become a home for furry friends and there seems to be no carrot or stick there to deal with this.

“I would like to see something that addresses that, it seems to be a very softly softly approach and I would think something within the landlord registration and the administration of that, should ensure landlords are held to account for the standard of their properties.

“Unfortunately, a lot of properties have been bought for renting and all people are interested in is the cash every month. They don’t have any supervisory role and I am happy to propose the recommendation with the additional amendments.”

Council’s head of environmental health, Gillian Topping, said the frustration over this matter is shared by council officers but explained there is little room in this piece of legislation to see such provision included.

“Overgrown and unkempt gardens exercises all of us,” said Ms Topping.

“It is an issue we have pressed many government departments on. We felt it ought to have been included in the clean neighbourhoods act of 2012 but unfortunately, the department failed to bring that into that.

“It would not be dealt with in the criteria for landlord registration and I don’t believe the registration process would be amended sufficiently to allow that.

“We could seek perhaps, when it comes round again, for the wider review of housing legislation to try and find a way to bring it to the department’s attention at that stage, perhaps in and around housing fitness.

“We have asked for a review and we may find a better place to push it in at that point but if I can find a way to bring it forward in any other way I will certainly keep it in mind.”

Having listened to Ms Topping’s response, Cllr Nicholson proposed the committee writes to the communities minister, Dierdre Hargey MLA, to ensure the matter is brought to her attention.

This proposal was seconded by Councillor Keith Haughian and the committee voiced its approval.

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