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Newham Council get tough on criminal landlords

Monday, December 12, 2016 - Newham Council

Latest figures released by Newham Council show the true scale of housing enforcement activity undertaken since borough-wide licensing was introduced in January 2013, as the council seek to crack down on criminal landlords who are placing their tenants lives at risk.

Private rented accommodation now accounts for 42.5 per cent of Newham’s housing stock, with over 60,000 Newham households renting from a private landlord. Whilst the council recognises the importance of the private rented sector and seeks to work with responsible landlords, the council does not tolerate illegal activity and takes a robust approach to enforcement.

In the last four years, Newham Council has issued 38,941 licences to 25,163 licence holders. Most Newham landlords have only one or two rented properties.

Whilst taking a light touch approach to landlords who apply promptly and act within the law, the council has carried out 384 multi-agency operations involving council, police, immigration and HMRC officers. These intelligence-led visits target landlords who rent out unlicensed, poorly managed and unsafe accommodation.

Following intervention by council officers, 2,170 housing and public health notices have been issued requiring improvements to living standards. For more serious offences, 390 landlords have received a Simple Caution, there have been 930 prosecutions and 28 landlords have been banned from operating in the borough. Research by London Property Licensing shows that most landlord prosecutions in London are undertaken in Newham.

As well as enforcement activity, joint working with council tax officers has resulted in an additional £1.9 million in unpaid council tax being recovered from Newham landlords.

Since the licensing scheme was introduced in 2013, Newham Council says that reported incidents of anti-social behaviour have dropped by 61 per cent.

The Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales said:

The Borough wide licensing scheme has proved extremely effective in tackling the minority of criminal landlords who rent out overcrowded, dangerous and squalid properties.

"Our scheme has been incredibly successful – our multiagency operations have seen us prosecute more rogue landlords than the rest of London put together and we have recovered £1.9m of council tax. That is why other councils are looking to Newham’s scheme and replicating it around the country."

Poor conditions are still being uncovered today

Despite robust enforcement activity, some landlords are continuing to ignore the rules and rent out overcrowded, substandard and unsafe accommodation.

We have been given details of one early morning enforcement operation last month, that was filmed by ITV London (watch here)  and attended by Caroline Flint MP. Despite the council already taking legal action, officers found that this rented property had been relet to a couple and was in an appalling condition, as pictured below.

Newham Council private rented housing inspection 2016

Photo above: bath installed in kitchen surrounded by electrical appliances and with plaster falling from the walls

Newham Council private rented housing inspection 2016

Photo above: outside toilet providing the only facility for private tenants in this property

Next steps for housing enforcement in Newham

Under current legislation, Newham Council’s additional and selective licensing schemes will come to an end on 31 December 2017. The council is keen to continue landlord licensing to help drive up conditions for the 60,000 plus households renting privately in Newham.

Before deciding whether it will apply to implement a new five year licensing scheme, Newham Council has launched a public consultation exercise which is running from 24 October 2016 to 23 January 2017. You can take part by visiting www.newham.gov.uk/licensingconsultation.

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