Unsafe lockdown conditions lead to rogue landlord crackdown

Private renters in Hackney suffering from health hazards, dangerous living conditions and mistreatment from landlords have been urged to report issues so that the Council can take action, as new photos show some of the horrendous standards tenants have been forced to endure during the coronavirus lockdown.

Hazardous electrics, bars on windows preventing emergency escape, undersized bedrooms without natural light or ventilation and showers placed above toilets are just some of the horrific conditions identified by Council enforcement officers this summer.

The crackdown comes amid concerns that the pandemic is being used by some landlords as an excuse to ignore their legal responsibilities and take advantage of the absence of long-term stability afforded to private renters – including failing to abide by rules requiring landlords of around 10,000 homes to get a licence in order to let out a property.

Landlords of all private rented homes in Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards are legally required to hold a licence committing them to keeping properties safe and treating tenants fairly.

Those letting out Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – homes with two or more households and shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and toilets – across the borough also need a licence requiring them to meet acceptable standards.

Throughout the pandemic the Council has continued to enforce against breaches of licensing conditions and landlords who have failed to get the licences they need, which can result in penalty charges of up to £30,000, prosecution leading to an unlimited fine, or bans from letting out homes completely.

But, with a decrease in licence applications in recent months suggesting more landlords are attempting to avoid their legal responsibilities, private renters are being encouraged to report landlords who don’t have the licence they need or are failing to provide acceptable standards so that action can be taken.

Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Adviser for Private Renting and Housing Affordability
The lockdown has shown just how important a safe, secure and comfortable home is, and as we look to rebuild a better Hackney from the pandemic, we’ll use every power we have to challenge landlords who fail to provide this for their tenants.

These pictures may show the extreme side of Hackney’s private rented sector, but every example of landlords failing to provide safe standards or ignoring their legal responsibilities is putting the health of their tenants at risk. Sadly these cases are all too common.

Our message to landlords is clear – get the licence you need and abide by its conditions, or we’ll take action.
Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Adviser for Private Renting and Housing Affordability

More details on the Council’s property licensing schemes, including how to apply and report breaches, is available at: hackney.gov.uk/property-licensing

Hackney Council has put support in place for private renters struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including additional financial help, advice and support on housing options and evictions, and enforcement against landlords. Find out more

Reporting poor conditions

If you’re concerned about the condition of your home or treatment from a landlord we can investigate and – where appropriate – take action. It is illegal for your landlord to take eviction action because of a complaint or request for a repair.

Contact the private sector housing team on 020 8356 4866 (Mon to Fri, 9am-4pm) or privatesectorhousing@hackney.gov.uk