Tougher licensing for landlords being extended by Tower Hamlets Council from April 1
PUBLISHED: 09:02 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:02 12 March 2019
Tougher licensing for landlords to give renters more protection is being extended by Tower Hamlets Council at the end of the month.
It is aimed at safeguarding tenants from “criminal” landlords who rent out overcrowded and unfit properties—but also makes them responsible for any anti-social behaviour by having to take up references from renters.
The new scheme coming in on April 1 covers 9,000 homes in addition to the existing ‘selective’ scheme that’s been running for two years in Whitechapel, Spitalfields and parts of Bethnal Green, as well as current regulations on all multi-occupied properties.
“This is another step to protect people in privately-rented housing,” mayor John Biggs said. “Landlords will have to show their accommodation is an acceptable standard.”
The expanded licensing scheme extends to all properties with three or four occupants living as two or more households who share facilities not already covered by regulations for larger properties. It also applies to flats with five or more tenants living as two or more households in purpose-built blocks of three or more flats.
Deputy mayor Sirajul Islam, cabinet member responsible for housing, said: “We often come across overcrowded flats shared by several people and this new scheme will protect these occupants.”
Tenants will be able to check whether their home is licensed and even apply for a rent rebate order for up to 12 months if they are living in an unregistered property. The council can also recover rent paid through housing benefit.
Landlords failing to apply a licence after April 1 could face unlimited fines and having to refund tenants. The fee for a five-year licence is £520.
Fines, legal costs and compensation so far has reached a total of £458,000 in just 36 months. One lettings agency in Poplar, Sterling De Vere, was fined £54,000 by Thames magistrates in September for an overcrowded flat on the Boundary Estate in Shoreditch that had no heating and inadequate fire precautions.
Renters had lacked protection before 2016 and could be evicted on a whim, some being thrown out for merely complaining about lack of repairs or maintenance.