Thursday, November 05, 2020

ROGUE LANDLORDS - How to Protect Tenants and Raise Standards (Labour Housing Group Newsletter Nov 20)


"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. 


Anonymous said...

> 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.

I was chatting to a landlord who owns a rental property on my street. We discussed local issues. I mentioned my issues with ASB over recent years. He has used some of the guarantee rent schemes offered by the council, but would never recommend them.

He told me landlords are induced to sign up, because they are told by the council's recruiters they don't need a license. With Newham council asking upwards for a £750 for a license. It is a huge saving to offer the property directly to the council.

Landlords who sign with councils can't do much, if the council puts in a problem tenant. The landlord can't evict those tenant. Only the council can evict the tenant. The landlord is tied into a lease agreement agreement for a few years.

Councils are dumping problem tenants, with no warning the landlord this may happen or neighbours.

Some may have mental issues or alcohol problem and given little supports. Others may have been evicted from elsewhere for causing trouble and ASB.

Residents such as me, should have an easy way of taking Newham Council to court if they dump problem tenants. Neighbours should also have access detailed tenant history. How do I know if my neighbour has a history of ASB?. Noe of it is recorded. It should influence, where they are re-housed in future with regards to allocation of council housing.

He told me the council will not do anything against problem tenants, as they will just have to re-house them elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

> My final licensing demand would be for Councils to be able once again to regulate rents.

How does that help those who are trying to buy a house or move up?

Why cant house prices be regulated instead of rents?

When house prices were lower in the noughties, it would cost £40,000 buy a house with an extra bedroom. Now it is more then £120,000 for an extra bedroom.

Overtime perhaps over 10 or 20 years, your proposal would see a divergence, where house prices keep going up, but rents stay static.

John Gray said...

if Council licence enforcement has powers to licence then they could deal effectively with such problems (especially other councils and government agencies who have properties in LBN).

Rather daft request for neighbours to have private information about tenants given to "neighbours". Should we give such information about neighbours to tenants?

If someone's behaviour is such that they become what is called "intentionally homeless" then the council does not have a rehousing duty anymore but may have a adult care duty.