BLACKBURN with Darwen council was in the midst of a new landlord licensing row as property experts claimed the scheme put people off buying to rent which had contributed to the borough’s house price slump.

The authority currently licenses landlords in the Infirmary and Mill Hill districts of Blackburn and parts of Darwen.

But local conveyancing solicitor Charlotte Ferguson and property management expert Paul Ainsworth-Lord said the scheme - also operated in Trinity in Burnley and parts of Hyndburn - is driving away purchasers who want to let property as mortgage lenders will not advance cash for buy to let clients there.

But Blackburn with Darwen borough defended the scheme saying it drove up tenanted property standards and disputed the claims.

The row erupted as homeless charity Shelter produced figures showing East Lancashire boroughs received more than 4,500 complaints about private landlords in the last four years prosecuting 16 of them.

Blackburn solicitor Ms Ferguson said: “As a conveyancing solicitor, I know most mainstream buy-to-let lenders will not lend on properties that are subject to selective licensing. This could mean that properties remain unsold and the regeneration of the area is undermined.”

Mr Ainsworth-Lord referred to figures this week showing house prices in Blackburn had plummeted by 26.2 per cent in a year.

He said: “Selective licensing drives out landlords. Most major financial institutions will not lend for buy to let in such areas. That explains some of the house price slump.”

Shelter policy director Kay Boycott said: “ Selective licensing can give more ammunition ensure landlords fulfill their basic responsibilities, protecting vulnerable tenants from this minority making their lives hell.”