News

Wandsworth Council reject proposals for landlord licensing scheme

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Investigations by London Property Licensing have revealed a decision by Wandsworth Council not to implement a new landlord licensing scheme.

Regulation of the private rented sector is a topic that has recently been considered by Wandsworth Council’s Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee. In a report presented on 6 July 2016, the Committee noted that the private rented sector accounts for about a third of the housing stock, while the number of complaints about poor quality accommodation have reduced in recent years.
 
The report noted that most complaints are resolved through negotiation and the level of tenant satisfaction is very high, at 85%. It also noted a rise in the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), estimated to be around 15,000 properties.

Less than 500 of these properties are currently licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme as most properties fall outside the licensing scheme criteria.

Having considered the idea of additional or selective licensing, the report concluded that there was no evidence available to justify the introduction of either scheme and so no licensing consultation will be carried out.

Instead the council have come up with a list of ten proposals to better regulate the private rented sector and tackle the small minority of rogue landlords using existing powers. These include:

  • Allocating a higher priority to housing enforcement in the three wards with the highest volume of complaints (Furzedown, Graveney & Tooting wards).
  • Setting up targeted action days.
  • Streamlining admin support so officers can concentrate on landlord / tenant activity.
  • Improving information and advice on the council’s website.
  • Reviewing processes for serving legal notices.
  • Improving training and development for staff on new legislation.
  • Refocusing resources on higher priority complaints and investigations.
  • Setting up a new landlord / letting agent forum and update newsletters.
  • Improving use of IT systems.
  • Improving information sharing and joint working with planning and housing benefits.

Following approval of the recommendations by Overview and Scrutiny on 6 July, the report was supported by the Council’s Executive on 11 July and the 10-point action plan will now be implemented.

This announcement is sure to welcomed by many Wandsworth landlords and letting agents who already strive to provide safe and decent accommodation for their tenants.

David Smith, Policy Director at the Residential Landlord Association commented:
 
It is really good to see a council considering a range of options around landlord regulation rather than defaulting to licensing.

The Housing Act 2004 offers a range of flexible powers to Councils and this range will shortly be widened with changes in the Housing and Planning Act; Local Housing Authorities should take a risk-based approach and focus their powers on directly addressing the real problems in the Private Rented Sector. It is good to see that Wandsworth has done this.
 
For further information on housing regulation in the London Borough of Wandsworth, visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/wandsworth

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