Wandsworth Council to revisit plans to license properties in the private rented sector
Back in 2016, Wandsworth Council explored proposals to introduce additional and selective licensing schemes following a petition from residents calling for action. Back then, councillors decided there were only a small number of tenant complaints and insufficient evidence to introduce such schemes. Instead, the council implemented a range of other measures to drive up standards in the private rented sector.
Much can change in six years. At a Housing Committee meeting on 29 September 2022, Wandsworth Councillors unanimously supported proposals to explore options to develop a property licensing scheme for private rented homes in the borough.
According to the report, there are over 41,000 private rented properties in the borough, representing about a third of the housing stock. Whilst 615 properties have been licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, the total number of HMOs in the borough is unclear.
Whilst noting most private landlords act responsibly, councillors were told that rogue landlords are letting substandard, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation which has a knock-on effect to the wider community in the form of anti-social behaviour, noise nuisance and other associated problems.
Councillors were told some of the potential benefits of a property licensing scheme could include:
- improvement in the condition and quality of properties in the private rented sector;
- the prevention of absentee or unfit landlords;
- increased responsibility required of landlords in the management of behaviour of their tenants; and,
- increased support for tenants.
Having considered the report, councillors authorised £60,000 funding for evidence gathering and a licensing feasibility study. Councillors were advised additional expenditure of up to £500,000 may be required for licensing scheme development.
It is expected that a further report will be brought back to the Housing Committee in June 2023, setting out more detailed proposals. Subject to agreement, the report indicates that any new licensing scheme is unlikely to be implemented until mid 2024.
Councillor Aydin Dikerdem, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“As a council, we have a commitment to all of our residents to ensure that they are in safe, secure and well-managed homes. That is why we are looking to increase support for tenants by recommending this review into discretionary licences in the Private Rented Sector.“
A free guide containing more information about property licensing and HMO planning rules in the London Borough of Wandsworth is available here.
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