Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Writing for Inside Housing, Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, argues that “private landlords should welcome licensing because it is driving out the rogues.”

“I was surprised and disheartened to see Alan Ward’s (Chairman of the RLA) critique of landlord licensing schemes earlier this week, “ says Sir Robin, because, he argues:

“In 2013, Newham Council introduced the nation’s first mandatory, borough-wide landlord licensing scheme. We did not take the decision lightly, but a minority of criminal landlords forced our hand by letting out squalid, overcrowded and unsafe properties”.

“Inadequate supply, an expanding private rented sector, and a weak regulatory framework is a recipe for disaster,” says Sir Robin.

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Citing an influential report into health inequalities in England known as the “Marmot Review” Sir Robin says it found that overcrowding and poor conditions in residential housing constitute a risk to health.

“Stable housing can help remove barriers to employment. We want to build a resilient community where residents have all the tools to achieve their aspirations. Poor housing represents a clear threat to that vision,” says Sir Robin.

Admitting there is still a long way to go in improving Newham’s private rented sector, he argues that licensing has made a “tangible difference”. At least until recently he says, Mr Ward, who has come out on one of our early morning operations, agreed with this assessment. In April 2016, Mr Ward had said, “Newham Council shows that with the will and resources, councils already have the powers needed to protect tenants from bad landlords.”

But he now says Sir Robin, Mr Ward worries that licensing schemes burden decent landlords while criminals continue unencumbered. This has not been our experience, and the facts speak for themselves.

“Our scheme has helped deliver 800 prosecutions against criminal landlords – in 2014/15, we were responsible for 70% of all housing prosecutions in London. We have also banned 28 landlords in relation to 230 properties, recovered thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money through 125 Rent Repayment Orders, and conducted more than 300 joint operations with the police, HMRC, and immigration officers. Criminal landlords are not getting an easy ride in Newham”, claims Sir Robin.

“Meanwhile, for those who play by the rules, our scheme is unintrusive. Existing landlords were asked to pay just £150 for a five-year licence. That is a drop in the ocean considering the huge profits on offer in the private rented sector, and certainly not enough to discourage new supply. Many Newham landlords welcome our scheme because they are sick of having their reputation tarnished by a greedy minority”.

Read the full article in Inside Housing here

Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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