Time is running out for thousands of private landlords who must join a council registration or face hefty fines.
Every buy to let and house in multiple occupation home in Newham, East London, must be registered by January 31, 2013.
The licensing scheme started on January 01, 2013, and is expected to net around 35,000 homes in the London borough, which adds up to around a third of all homes in Newham.
The aim is to improve housing standards – and Newham is the first council in England to licence all private landlords.
The council claims 5,000 – around 14% or 1 in 7 of all private rented homes – fall below acceptable living conditions.
Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “When we consulted our residents, a massive majority were in favour of this.”
“The bad behaviour occurs in the bad properties: the anti-social behaviour, the mess in the garden. We need to go after them.”
Private landlords have to declare convictions for crime and housing offences and make sure their letting properties meet strict health and safety standards or face fines of up to £20,000.
A five-year licence costs £150 per property.
Newham is also running a private landlord accreditation scheme – which requires a separate fee – offering a payment of up to £1,000 from taking on referred tenants and other features, including;
- Market rents paid for council tenants living in private rented homes
- Landlord training
- Fast tracked housing benefit payments
- Bonds against unpaid rent and tenant damage to homes
- Priority for tenant referrals
The neighbourhoods where licensing is needed are listed on the Newham Council web site.
Scotland already runs a national landlord register and consultation for a similar register in Wales in underway.
In England, the government maintains each council should consider how to police private landlords. Around 40 English councils have licensing schemes for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), although licensing is only mandatory for homes with six or more tenants or of three or more storeys.