Newham warns rogue landlords

Nia Williams

September 9, 2013

Figures released by the council showed 30,000 licence applications had been received, 22,000 licences had been issued, 67 prosecutions and 43 cautions have been enforced while 2,320 properties received warning letters of which 50% then chose to obtain licences.

The council consulted with residents, stakeholders, private sector tenants, landlords and lettings agencies before taking the decision to enforce the scheme on 1 January this year.

Of those which took part in the consultation 74% of residents and 76% of private tenants supported the borough-wide licensing scheme.

Newham Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, said: “It is clear from our consultation that our residents, including tenants in private sector homes, massively back our plans.

“This scheme shows that Newham is leading the country when it comes to tackling bad landlords who flout the law.”

The council revealed one in five unlicensed properties in the borough had been found to harbour suspected criminals.

At least 110 arrests have been made by police for alleged offences including immigration, drug dealing, grievous bodily harm, theft, fraud and harassment offences.

Wales added: “We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard. We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing.

“Good landlords have nothing to fear from this scheme. For the bad ones this a clear message they must clean up their act – or pay the price.”

The borough-wide scheme, the first of its kind in the country, came after it announced the creation of a task force to combat “sheds with beds”.

These are illegal ramshackle buildings built at the bottom of gardens which often house tenants living in appalling squalor exploited by rogue landlords.

The scheme is backed by national housing charity Shelter and other councils are considering following Newham’s lead.

Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: “We are delighted to hear that Newham Council is introducing this scheme which will help protect vulnerable tenants from rogue landlords who are making their tenants’ lives hell.

“We urge other local councils to follow Newham’s lead in sending a clear signal that enforcing the law against rogue landlords is a priority.”

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