"Newham has one of the most extensive,longest running and most effective landlordlicensing schemes in the country. It was set up in 2013 and renewed for another 5 years in 2018. At one stage Newham was prosecuting more criminal landlords that the rest of the country put together. Despite this, every day our enforcement teams have to tackle serious disrepair, anti-social behaviour, illegal evictions and harassment of tenants. Since February 2018 we have fined 247 landlords and prosecuted 38.
We regulate 17,000 landlords who between them hold 40,000 licences. Nearly 50% of our entire housing stock is privately rented, 20% of which have repair hazards. The vast majority of landlords are not “rogues” and want to do the right thing for their tenants but there is an issue that 13,000 landlords only own a single property.
I have worked for Councils and Housing associations for nearly all my professional life and know how hard it is to manage properties even when you have a big organisation behind you. So education and support for landlords is a must.
We have established forums for landlords and intend to resume holding quarterly meetings (virtually) and workshops. Since Covid we have been sending out e-newsletters to landlords offering advice and reminders of their responsibilities.
We think we can make a difference by encouraging landlords to become more professional, but we will not hesitate to prosecute the true rogues. We are doubling the size of our enforcement team and working with Planning to shut down unlawful HMOs.
We are also working with Council Tax fraud investigators and trying (not that successfully so far) to get Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to tackle tax evasion by landlords. We also want to work with renters’ unions and other campaigning groups. We are helping tenants who have been illegally evicted or lived in unlicensed properties to claim back their rent from these landlords.
� We call on the government to do what they have promised and abolish so called “no fault” evictions, whereby tenants can be legally thrown out even if they pay the rent and look after the property. Some landlords use this power to frighten tenants from reporting repair issues or harassment.
� We also need compulsory national landlord registration, a requirement to have written tenancy agreements and an increase in criminal sanctions, fines and effective powers to compulsory purchase the very worse properties.
� We demand an end to the inexplicable anomaly that allows landlords who rent their homes to local authorities and the Government for temporary accommodation to be exempt from licensing. Well done to our East End neighbours, Waltham Forest, for their legal challenge on this.
� My final licensing demand would be for Councils to be able once again to regulate rents. Between 2011 and 2018, rents in Newham increased by 56% but salaries have only risen by 21%. A reasonable 2-bed flat in my ward can cost £1500 per month. 49% of all families in Newham live in poverty after their housing costs are taken into account. A staggering 66% of our children live in poverty for the same reason. We have powers to tackle rogue landlords but not rogue rents. Why not?
Cllr John Gray London Borough Newham.