Important protections against unscrupulous landlords have been introduced in Lewisham after the Government approved a new property licensing scheme.
Around 20,000 private properties will fall under the London Borough of Lewisham Selective Licensing Designation which covers 16 wards across the borough: Brockley, Catford South, Lewisham Central, New Cross, Perry Vale, Rushey Green, Crofton Park, Evelyn, Ladywell, Lee Green, Sydenham, Bellingham, Downham, Forest Hill, Grove Park, and Whitefoot.
According to the designation, which comes into effect on 1 July 2024, landlords of certain property types will have to apply for a licence and be subject to property inspections to ensure that the appropriate number of people or households live on the property as well as meet certain health and safety standards.
Landlords who do not comply may face prosecution, an unlimited fine, a fine of £30,000, or may have their property taken under the control of the Council.
This comes after Eatlondonlines reported on a pregnant single mother subjected to poor housing in Lewisham.
William Cooper, Labour Councillor and Lewisham Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness, said in a statement by the Council: “With 1 in 4 households in Lewisham renting privately, improving standards in the private rented sector is a vital part of our work to tackle the housing crisis. Our new licensing scheme will help ensure private rented properties are fit for purpose and empower us to take action against those landlords who fail to fulfil their responsibilities”.
Cooper went on say on X that the scheme will “improve conditions for private tenants across Lewisham and hold bad landlords to account”.
This is timely given Mayor Sadiq Khan and Deputy Mayor Tom Copley’s recent condemnation of unliveable conditions faced by a tenant in Lewisham. A pregnant single mother of two was living for a year in a mould-infested flat without heating or hot water, highlighting the importance of introducing stricter regulations for private landlords.
The new scheme, published on December 5, will cover “nearly all” privately rented properties. However, there are notable exceptions such as certain types of houses in multiple occupation, student lettings and long leaseholders, among others.
According to the designation: “If you are a landlord, managing agent or a tenant, or if you require information regarding these designations, or to apply for a licence, further information and assistance is available from the Council’s Private Sector Licensing and Housing Enforcement Team by telephone on 020 8314 6420 or by email to PSHE@lewisham.gov.uk or by writing to Private Sector Licensing and Housing Enforcement, London Borough of Lewisham, Laurence House, 1 Catford Rd, London SE6 9SE”.