Apply now or face the consequences – a tough message for Hackney landlords
Hackney landlords and letting agents could face unlimited fines under new property licensing schemes that came into force last month.
On 1 October 2018, Hackney Council introduced a borough-wide additional licensing scheme plus a selective licensing scheme covering part of the borough, with both schemes set to last for five years.
The new property licensing powers mean that landlords of all private rented homes in Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards will need to hold a licence committing them to keeping properties safe and treating tenants fairly.
And landlords of the estimated 4,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Hackney – properties with two or more households and shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and toilets – will also need a licence requiring them to meet acceptable standards.
In total, the council estimate that around 9,000 properties will need to be licensed. The council have said they will delay enforcement action until Monday 3 December 2018, to give landlords enough time to apply.
Those who don’t apply for a licence or fail to comply with licence conditions can face fixed penalties of up to £30,000 per offence, or a criminal prosecution with the risk of an unlimited fine. Landlords of unlicensed properties could also be forced to refund their tenants up to 12 months rent. Serious offenders can be banned from letting homes completely and placed on a rogue landlords database.
Under the new licensing schemes, Hackney Council’s private housing enforcement team is set to almost double in size to uncover perpetrators and tackle issues such as inadequate heating, damp and mould, dangerous boilers, exposed wiring and vermin infestations.
These measures follow research from the Council’s Better Renting campaign, which found that around one in five homes covered under the new measures suffer from serious hazards, disrepair or poor management.
Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Advisor for Private Renting and Housing Affordability, Hackney Council said:
“We know that many of Hackney’s landlords provide a good, professional service, and we’re looking forward to working with them to create better conditions for renters in Hackney.
“But these new measures – along with our expanded enforcement team – show that we’re not afraid to take action to tackle rogue landlords who exploit Hackney’s housing crisis by mistreating renters and providing substandard housing to families who deserve better.
“Hackney Council’s message to rogue landlords is clear – get licensed, treat tenants fairly – or face the consequences“.
The move is the latest initiative in the Council’s Better Renting campaign, which aims to protect Hackney’s 34,000 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.
Full details on the new property licensing measures, including which landlords need a license and the licensing conditions, are available at www.hackney.gov.uk/property-licensing.
A free guide to property licensing schemes is available on the London Property Licensing website here.
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