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Crackdown on rogue landlords leads to 580 housing prosecutions in London

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Landlords letting out unsafe, poorly managed and overcrowded accommodation are being sent a stark warning today following research published by housing consultancy, London Property Licensing.

From 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2014, there were 580 housing prosecutions in London under the Housing Act 2004. The prosecutions taken by the London Boroughs covered a wide range of offences including:

  • Failing to comply with an Improvement Notice requiring the landlord to resolve serious hazards in the property;
  • Failing to comply with a Prohibition Order which stops a landlord from renting out a property due to serious hazards;
  • Failing to properly manage a house in multiple occupation (HMO);
  • Failing to obtain a licence to rent out the property (HMO, additional or selective licensing); and
  • Failing to comply with licence conditions or exceeding the occupancy limit on a licence.

Housing Prosecutions: the top 5 London Boroughs

The five London boroughs taking the most prosecutions were:

1. Newham   (359 prosecutions)
2. Haringey   (57 prosecutions)
3. Camden    (20 prosecutions)
4. Redbridge (19 prosecutions)
5. Southwark (15 prosecutions)

Housing enforcement action in Newham has been dramatically stepped up following the implementation of borough wide selective and additional licensing in January 2013. Under the licensing scheme, every private rented property in Newham needs to be licensed before it can be rented out. The number of housing prosecutions in Newham Council far exceeds all other London Boroughs put together.

Whilst some councils excel at their enforcement activity, there are eight London councils languishing at the bottom of the league table, having taken no Housing Act 2004 prosecutions over this three year period: Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Brent, City of London, Enfield, Havering, Merton and Richmond upon Thames. Whilst the lack of prosecutions may reflect areas with a higher compliance rate and an absence of poor quality rented housing, it may also highlight councils that could do more to tackle the very worst landlords. 

Commenting of the research findings, Richard Tacagni, Managing Director at London Property Licensing said:

This latest research should act as a wake up call to landlords who try to evade their legal responsibilities and place tenants’ lives at risk. Councils are cracking down on this unacceptable behaviour. Whilst the vast majority of landlords take their responsibilities seriously, those looking to make a quick profit at the expense of their tenants’ health and safety need to think again. 

"Some of the councils currently at the bottom of the enforcement league table are also starting to up their game. For example, Brent Council has undertaken several prosecutions in recent months. The challenge is now on for all councils to take effective enforcement action where it is needed and justified, whilst working in partnership with good, responsible landlords”.

In March 2015, there was a change in the law lifting the financial cap on future housing prosecutions. Following a successful prosecution, the Courts can now award an unlimited fine for many housing offences and this is likely to result in higher fines being awarded in the future.

Editors Notes

1. London Property Licensing (www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk) is an essential new information resource for landlords and managing agents. Our objective is to cut through the jargon and provide simple, impartial and expert advice on all matters associated with property licensing and the regulation of private rented homes in London. Our website provides a wealth of information about property licensing across all 33 London councils.

2. The research findings are based on freedom of information responses received from all 33 London councils between December 2014 and April 2015.

3. More detailed analysis of the research findings is available here.

4. For more information, contact: press@londonpropertylicensing.co.uk.