Newham starts private landlord licensing

The first council-wide private landlord licensing scheme is underway – and landlords who fail to sign up risk fines of up to £20,000.

Newham Council, in East London, wants to register 35,000 private rented homes by the end of January 2013.

Mayor Sir Robin Wales reckons around 15% of rented homes in the borough that hosted the 2012 Olympics offer living standards that are unacceptable to tenants – including poor fire safety, pest infestations, faulty gas and electric installations and damp.

The council wants to lift standards in these 5,000 properties by becoming the first borough in England to licence every private rented home.

Wales said: “When we consulted our residents, a massive majority were in favour of this.”

“The bad behaviour occurs in the bad properties: the anti-social behaviour, the mess in the garden. We need to go after them.”

To sign up, private landlords must tell the council about any criminal or housing convictions. Homes are also inspected to ensure they meet safety standards.

Landlords must pay £150 per property for a licence.

Newham wants landlords to join an accreditation scheme – which requires a separate fee – and cash rewards up to £1,000 for housing problem tenants.

Accreditation also offers other benefits, like:

  • Paying market rents for social tenants in private rented homes
  • Training and support for landlords who want to keep current with housing law
  • Priority housing benefit processing for taking on social tenants
  • Tenant referrals
  • Bonds to cover unpaid rent or deliberate damage to the property

The area covered by licensing is listed on the Newham Council web site. [Opens in new window]

Forms for licensing properties and for joining the accredited landlord scheme are also on the web site. [Both open in new windows]

Scotland has run national landlord licensing for some time, while the Welsh Assembly Government is considering a similar scheme.

No national landlord accreditation is required in England, although councils can opt to licence buy to lets or houses in multiple occupation in their areas under additional and selective licensing schemes.

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