Waltham Forest landlords warned to get their properties licensed or face prosecution
Robust enforcement action is underway to target private landlords in London Borough of Waltham Forest who have not yet licensed their properties.
Since Waltham Forest’s new selective licensing scheme was introduced in April 2015, 25 landlords have been prosecuted for failing to get their property licensed.
The campaign to drive up property standards in Waltham Forest shows no signs of slowing, as the Council continues its programme of enforcement to crack down on rogue landlords.
The Council launched its privately rented property licensing scheme to help improve living standards for residents in the private rented sector. The scheme requires landlords to hold a separate licence for each property they rent out in the borough, and means landlords can be prosecuted if they fail to adhere to certain licence conditions.
On Wednesday 15 June, landlord David Reid of Forest Road, Walthamstow, appeared at Thames Magistrates’ Court after being prosecuted by the Council for failing to obtain licences for five privately rented flats, which are also located on Forest Road. He pleaded guilty and was fined £10,000, as well as being ordered to pay £2,455 in costs.
Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“With one in three residents in Waltham Forest renting privately, it’s important to protect our renters and make sure they are getting a fair deal. We have now successfully prosecuted 25 landlords for refusing to register with our private rented property licensing scheme, with courts ordering fines and costs of over £90,000 to those convicted. As with this case landlords have ended up with individual bills of over £10,000 for ignoring our warnings.“
In another recent case a landlord was prosecuted for failing to license a property as a mandatory House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). When inspected by Council officers the property in question, on Garner Road, Walthamstow, was found to be overcrowded and lacked necessary fire precautions. It also had an occupied ‘bed in shed’ in the rear garden. A prohibition order was served on the bed in shed as well as an improvement notice to address the other issues.
The landlord, Mohammed Shafiq, of Warren Road, Wanstead, claimed that he was renting the property to a single family, and that it was being sub-let without his knowledge. However he did not take any steps to return the property to single-family use, so the Council proceeded to prosecute him for failing to license the property.
Mr Shafiq agreed that the property was being occupied as an HMO, but entered a ‘reasonable excuse’ defence as he was taking steps to evict the tenants. The case was heard at Thames Magistrates Court on Monday 6 June, with the court ruling in the Council’s favour. Mr Shafiq was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,631. Two other properties that Mr Shafiq owns in Waltham Forest will now also have their licences reviewed.
Cllr Limbajee added:
“I hope this case sends out a strong message to any landlord who thinks they can flout the law by renting properties to a single tenant when they are fully aware it is occupied by multiple households. We will not hesitate to prosecute any landlord who chooses to ignore our warnings and rent out properties with such poor living conditions.“
More information about property licensing is available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/waltham-forest and a new licence application service is now available for landlords who need assistance (read here).