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Consultation underway on proposed additional and selective licensing schemes in Islington

Sunday, September 15, 2019 - Islington Council

Islington Council has announced proposals for two new property licensing schemes to help secure a fairer deal for private renters in the borough by improving conditions.

The first is a borough-wide additional licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The scheme would require landlords who rent out a property to three or more people who are not members of the same family (as well as certain converted blocks of flats) to get a licence from the council.

The second is a selective licensing scheme covering all private rented properties in the Finsbury Park ward. According to the council, Finsbury Park has the highest number of complaints about private rented properties in the borough and high levels of deprivation. Council officers have recently found a number of properties in the area with unsafe or unsuitable conditions.

The council believe the two proposed schemes will enable the council to set minimum standards for property management, including the provision of kitchen and bathroom facilities, room sizes and health and safety (e.g. fire, gas and electrical safety checks). The aim is to protect tenants by ensuring that properties are licensed and kept to an appropriate standard.

At the same time, the council think that the proposed licensing schemes benefit responsible landlords by levelling the playing field, ensuring rogue landlords who avoid maintenance are not saving money by renting properties in poor conditions.

Additional licensing in Caledonian and Holloway Roads

Since 1 September 2015, Islington Council have been operating a small additional licensing scheme covering all HMOs in Caledonian and Holloway Road. That scheme is due to end on 31 August 2020.

The council say that this pilot scheme has helped to improve property management in the local area. They now want to replicate that scheme across the whole borough as their evidence indicates around a quarter of HMOs are poorly managed.

Proposed licensing fees

The council have indicated the proposed additional licence fee would be £288 per letting (i.e. bedroom in a shared house), making it £1,152 for a four-person house-share.

The proposed selective licence fee in Finsbury Park ward is £500 per property.

Most licences would be for five years and discounts would be offered to accredited landlords

Consultation underway – have your say

The council have launched a public consultation on the proposed licensing schemes that is open until 3 November 2019. The council are encouraging all interested parties to complete a questionnaire, send in written comments or attend one of their drop in events. More information can be found on the council’s website.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, Islington Council said:

Everyone has the right to a decent, safe and genuinely affordable home. London’s ongoing housing crisis means that far too many dodgy operators are able to take advantage of people’s desperate need for a home, and are profiting off substandard properties with poor living conditions.

The council can and does act to protect private renters and we’ve taken significant enforcement action against rogue landlords and dodgy lettings agents recently. Licensing schemes are powerful tools to help us protect private renters and, if agreed, these new schemes will help us to identify and reward good landlords while protecting some of our most marginalised private renters.

There are a great number of responsible landlords in the borough, and these licensing schemes will help the council to ensure that those conscientious landlords are rewarded, while rogue operators offering poor conditions are more easily identified.

Cllr Jenny Kay, Islington Council’s Private Renters Champion, said:

More than a third of people in Islington live in a privately rented home and we are determined to ensure they get a fairer deal.

As a private renter in London, I have experienced first-hand the difficulties some tenants face.  There are many good landlords, but too often people are being forced to accept poor quality and sometimes unsafe living conditions.

Consulting on these schemes is a small but important step, and we want to go further. We will also keep making representations to the government and working with campaigners to make sure the rights of private renters are protected.

We are sending a clear message that, when a market is broken, Islington Council will use all its powers to intervene. We expect landlords to keep their properties in a good condition or face serious consequences.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Islington is available here.

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