8,000 private landlords apply for licences under new rules
13:26 28 October 2014
Thousands of landlords have applied for licences under tough new rules that could land them with a £20,000 fine for renting out homes in bad condition.
8,000 - Landlords have applied for licences
76% - private tenants support borough-wide licences
£20,000 - fine landlords face if they fail to get a licence
41% - of private homes had a category one ‘hazard’
£514,748 - Council bill for anti-social behaviour
The Private Rented Licensing Scheme was introduced by the council on September 1 to tackle anti-social behaviour and poor conditions in private housing.
Nearly eight weeks on, more than 8,000 landlords have applied for licences, who own about half the borough’s private housing.
Landlords who fail to obtain licences could be fined up to £20,000 or even have their properties seized.
“We needed a better regulated private sector,” said Robin Payne, the council’s divisional director of environmental services, “and decided licensing was something we should consider.”
Inspections found a number of cases of sub-standard housing and problems to do with anti-social behaviour, litter, noise and incorrect gas certificates.
Mr Payne said more than 40 per cent had “a hazard that would constitute an actual risk to the tenant.”
There were also problems with too many people staying in one home. “The average of five for this kind of housing in this borough is quite high,” said Mr Payne. “We found one property with 11 adults.”
The new scheme covers selective licensing for single households of one or two people, and additional licensing for homes with three or more tenants.
Proposals for the scheme were supported by a majority of tenants in a council survey, with 80pc of the general public and 73pc of private tenants in favour of borough-wide selective licensing, and 85pc of the public and 76pc of tenants supporting borough-wide additional licensing.
Along with the survey, the council consulted the Local Landlord and Lettings Forum.
“About 75pc of landlords opposed licensing, although nearly half of them didn’t disapprove for shared accommodation,” said Mr Payne.
The idea of a fine was supported by tenants, but 83pc of landlords felt the fines were too high.
Inspections are ongoing, with each property being visited twice – once by the council and once by the fire department to check for fire hazards.
The council hopes all 17,000 private landlords in Barking and Dagenham will have licences by February 2015.