No landlords fined in half of London councils

Ryan Fowler

March 6, 2020

Half of London’s boroughs did not fine any landlords for letting out unsafe homes in the past year, analysis from Generation Rent of City Hall’s “Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker” has found.

In the year to 26 February, the Greater London Authority’s website recorded 292 fines issued by 17 London boroughs, totalling £1.04m. But this is down on the previous 12 months, when landlords were fined £1.66m for 433 offences.

Generation Rent is calling for the next Mayor of London to step up the fight against criminal landlords by letting tenants check online if their home needs and has a licence. An estimated 130,000 private rented homes in London do not have the correct licence, making one in eight private renters eligible for a refund of rent.

Data recorded by the GLA over the past two years found that Camden has been the most successful council in taking action against criminal landlords overseeing more than £750,000 in fines.

In the past year, other leading councils Newham, Brent, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest have seen fines fall by more than half, while Westminster, Hounslow and Haringey have more than doubled theirs.

In the past year 15 councils did not record a single fine on the GLA rogue landlord database. Nine councils did not prosecute or issue a civil penalty to a single landlord in the last two years: Bexley, Bromley, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston, Lewisham, Merton and Sutton.

In 130 of the 292 cases recorded in the last 12 months, the tenant would have been entitled to reclaim up to 12 months’ rent from the landlord through a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) because their landlord had failed to either obtain a licence or make improvements to the property ordered by the council. But, according to separate data obtained by Generation Rent through Freedom of

Information requests, just six councils helped renters apply for RROs in 2018-19, with a total of 20 tenants getting assistance.

Of the 32 London Boroughs, Generation Rent has found that 28 allow tenants to check the licence status of their home online. Southwark, Sutton, Merton and Bromley do not publish registers of their licensed properties.

Generation Rent is calling on the next Mayor to bring all councils’ landlord licensing data together on the City Hall website and give tenants an easy-to-use tool to check if their landlord is meeting their legal obligations and, if they’re not, advice on how to claim back their rent.

As part of its blueprint for fixing the capital’s renting crisis, launched today, Generation Rent is also calling for the Mayor to develop a skills strategy to equip councils with the expertise to inspect and take appropriate action against negligent landlords, and to demand powers to create a London-wide register of renter property.

Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent, said: “Laws to keep our homes safe only mean anything if they are enforced, and if landlords understand the consequences of cutting corners. Despite squalid conditions facing many of London’s renters, councils have a very mixed record on bringing the landlords responsible to justice.

“The next Mayor of London could turn this around by making it easier for renters to use Rent Repayment Orders against criminal landlords. We want all candidates for Mayor to commit to upgrading the City Hall website to let Londoners check if their landlord has the right licence and help them take action.”

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