Rogue landlords in Barking and Dagenham had to stump up more than £317,000 in fines last year.
The council, which was the first in the UK to mandate all its PRS properties to be licensed, issued 117 civil penalty notices totalling £271,310 and 89 enforcement notices totalling over £46,000.
It also investigated 99 cases of illegal eviction and handled 122 cases of landlord harassment in the last 12 months – a significant rise on the year before the pandemic.
In one instance, council enforcement officers received a tip off about an unlicensed overcrowded property in Mayfair Avenue, where 13 people were found living in a four-bedroom house.
Fourteen joint operations were also carried out with the Met Police, including one where the unlicensed HMO in Reede Road was being used as a brothel. The landlord is now awaiting a court hearing.
Councillor Margaret Mullane (pictured), cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, says most landlords in the borough understand their responsibilities – both legally and morally – to their tenants.
However, she adds: “There are unfortunately some unsavoury landlords who choose to flout the rules, and that is where we will use all the legal powers available to us to take action to improve living conditions for our residents.”
Since the borough-wide scheme launched in 2019 there have been about 15,000 applications for licences, although it is thought a quarter of all housing in the borough is private rented accommodation.