Greens this week hailed proposals to introduce a licensing scheme for private sector landlords as a “vital step” in improving housing standards for over 34,000 households living in the private rented sector. The statement was made following a cross-party agreement at the Housing & New Homes Committee to explore the viability of introducing licensing schemes for the private rented sector.
The private rented sector accounts for over 28% of all housing stock in the City, rising to 60% in some neighbourhoods, and has some of the worst property standards in the city, with 37% of private sector homes classed as non decent .
The proposals could see landlords required to apply for licences before renting out property and to take steps to improve persistent problems with their properties such as damp, cold, fire safety or poor energy efficiency. Where a similar scheme was introduced in Newham Borough Council in 2013, this identified extensive poor performance by landlords on housing quality, with the council sending over 5,000 warning letters, issuing 82 cautions and seeking prosecution of 134 landlords under the Housing Act for various offences.
Green councillor and spokesperson for housing, David Gibson said:
“We wholeheartedly welcome proposals to introduce more licensing of private sector landlords, which must be an integral part of any comprehensive solution to the city’s housing crisis. Greens got the ball rolling on private sector licensing when running the council and are pleased it now has cross-party support. While we recognise that many landlords offer a good quality service, it is often the case that tenants’ rights and welfare are too low a priority, leading to poor quality homes that have a significant negative impact on tenants’ health and well-being. The licensing we introduced has already led to improvements in fire safety, basic conditions and fuel efficiencies in hundreds of Houses of Multiple occupation, and we now urgently need to expand it to all private-sector rented properties to ensure more homes are decent to live in.
“As the private rented sector continues to grow, more residents are being placed at the mercy of “rogue landlords” who are neglecting their legal responsibilities, and treating tenants poorly. These few are damaging the reputation of the entire sector and undercutting landlords who are responsible.
“In the long run we need a radical approach to transform the sector, which enforces more secure tenancies and a living rent for all residents renting privately, and introduces a responsible landlord culture as the norm. Licensing private sector landlords is one component of this, and is a step that we can take now, without national reform. We hope councillors of all parties continue to back this initiative”.