Campaigners have welcomed proposals by Hackney Council to force those letting property to acquire licenses in a crackdown on rogue landlords.
Private landlords may have to apply for a licence to let property in parts of Hackney to protect the increasing number of renters living in dangerous conditions, under new Council plans.
In an attempt to tackle criminal landlords and poor living conditions, private landlords could face unlimited fines if their property doesn’t meet certain standards.
The license would apply to landlords in parts of Stoke Newington and Clapton, as well as those letting homes anywhere in the borough with two or more households and shared facilities.
Landlords would have to ensure their property meets minimum standards of security, facilities and safety before letting it out or renewing a tenancy, subject to six-monthly inspections.
Seb Klier, London Campaigns Manager at Generation Rent, told Eastlondonlines he welcomed the proposals, describing them as “an important tool in driving up conditions in the private rented sector”.
“The London housing crisis is crystallised in boroughs like Hackney, where house prices have risen far beyond the reach of ordinary Londoners and unscrupulous landlords are taking advantage,” he said.
“Private renters should not have to put up with cold homes, unsafe electrics, and unsanitary conditions, just because landlords don’t feel responsible.”
Research commissioned by the council found tenants often face “appalling conditions” that put their safety at risk despite paying an average of £1,820 a month in for a two-bedroom home.
Hackney renters have also been subjected to problems like dangerous boilers, exposed wiring or vermin infestations.
Tenants in shared homes experience the worst problems, with more than one in five having to deal with serious hazards or disrepair.
Councillor Sem Moema, Mayoral Advisor for Private Renting and Housing Affordability, said: “Too many renters face the raw deal of spiralling rents and a poor service from a minority of rogue landlords.”
Describing the current situation as “completely unacceptable”, she said the measures were needed to “tackle landlords who exploit renters, and make sure their homes are safe, secure and well-maintained.”
Citizens UK organiser, Caitlin Burbridge, told the Hackney Citizen: “The move will undoubtedly drive up standards in the private rented sector, on which so many people and families have to rely for a roof over their heads.”
She said the proposals, which she campaigned for, would allow the council to not only “bring rogue landlords to book”, but also to enforce standards that “sadly many privately rented properties in the borough do not meet”.
“Other London boroughs have found it of great benefit to have similar enhanced powers of enforcement and, if necessary, prosecution,” she added.
Although the Hackney proposals were promising, Klier said “a comprehensive licensing system for all landlords” in the capital was needed to achieve a “professional, safe and secure private rented sector”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced earlier this year the launch of a rogue landlord database in order to “name and shame” criminal and exploitative landlords.
The database will allow Londoners to either report or search for rogue landlords and create a platform for councils to provide details of investigations and prosecutions.
The scheme could be extended to the whole capital after being piloted across six boroughs – Newham, Brent, Camden, Southwark, Kingston and Sutton.
The consultation on the proposals by Hackney council closes in early December, so visit the council’s website here.