One London Council, Lewisham, is considering applying for government permission to charge landlords up to £750 per property which it says will enable it to route-out rogue landlords by inspecting thousands of homes in the borough.
However, landlords argue that this will simply increase their costs without effectively cracking down on the rogues. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says that these “schemes could harm landlords without improving standards.” If approved, the RLA fears that other authorities would follow Lewisham’s lead.
Lewisham’s councillor Paul Bell, cabinet member for housing, has said that the authority wants to use selective licensing to “reduce the gap between good and bad landlords” from as early as February next year.
The licences would cost up to £750 for five years and there’s always been the suspicion by landlords that not all of the money raised by these schemes finds its way into the designated causes.
Lewisham’s councillor Paul Bell however, says the schemes will make the entire rental sector better.
Mr Bell says:
“The vast majority of landlords are good, but we want to improve things for everyone.
“We want to crack down on rogue landlords, and reduce the gap between poor and good landlords.
“The entire (private rented) sector will improve, because people will have more respect for the sector.”
Mr Bells says that Lewisham Council’s research shows around one-quarter of homes in the borough are in private landlords’ hands, and he indicated that there was a link with issues such as anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and crime.
Mr Bell blames the private rented sector for much of the homelessness in a borough, where 2,000 households are now in temporary housing, which he says is “…not an effective use of public money, and it’s not good for the people in that situation.”
Following a local consultation asking people for their opinions on licensing for private landlords, which got over 1,800 responses, Lewisham’s cabinet for housing will now decide on whether to ask for government permission, and whether to roll the licensing scheme for all shared houses.
Meanwhile, the RLA is urging landlords and letting agents to respond to local licensing consultations.
The RLA says it aims to “respond to all licensing consultations run by local authorities.”
Ongoing consultations currently involve Bassetlaw District Council-selective licensing closing 10th October, Wirral-selective licensing closing 14th October, Islington-additional licensing and selective licensing closing 3rd November, and Enfield Council’s multiple schemes closing 29th November.