Rogue landlords forced to clean up their act under new measures to protect renters
Landlords in Hackney must bring more than 1,500 privately rented homes blighted by serious hazards or disrepair up to scratch or face prosecution or financial penalties after new powers to protect the borough’s growing number of private renters were approved.
The new property licensing measures will mean that landlords letting out a property in the Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards will need to hold a licence requiring them to meet acceptable standards.
Landlords of Hackney’s 4,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – homes with two or more households and shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and toilets – will also have to apply for a licence under the new arrangements approved by the Council’s Cabinet last night (19 March).
The measures follow research commissioned as part of the Council’s Better Renting campaign, which estimates that more than 15% of the 4,700 privately rented homes in these three wards, and one in five of all HMOs across the borough suffer from serious hazards ranging from damp and mould to dangerous boilers, exposed wiring and vermin infestations. This means that over 1,500 properties covered by the new licensing schemes don’t meet minimum standards and will need to be brought into line by their landlords.
Affected landlords who don’t acquire a licence or fail to comply with its conditions will face a fixed penalty, a criminal prosecution leading to an unlimited fine, or be forced to pay back up to a year’s rent. Serious offenders can be served with a banning order, preventing them from letting out a property, and placed on a rogue landlords database.
As a long term renter in Hackney myself, I’ve experienced first hand a private rented sector in which the odds are stacked all too firmly in favour of landlords. These new measures are a milestone in our commitment to challenging this and creating a better system for renters in the borough.
We know that many landlords provide a good service to their tenants, but all too many fail to do so. Introducing additional property licensing will mean landlords will have to bring hundreds of homes up to scratch in hazard hotspots where conditions are at their worst.
In Hackney we’ve always provided advice and support to those struggling in the private sector and pushed government to do more to help renters - but this move shows that we’re also willing to intervene in the market to get renters the protection they deserve.
The move is the latest initiative in the Council’s Better Renting campaign, which aims to protect Hackney’s 33,000 private renting households and tackle the minority of landlords who take advantage of this growth in demand by letting out homes that don’t meet modern standards and put tenants’ safety at risk. The campaign has already seen the Council lead the way by introducing a voluntary ban on letting fees charged to tenants, on-the-spot fines for rogue landlords, and plans for new living rent homes.
One in three households in Hackney now rents privately, leading to rent increases of 36% since 2011. A two bedroom privately rented home now costs over £1,800 a month on average.
Find out more about the new property licensing schemes.