100% compulsory licensing in Newham – the sign of things to come?
Big news today.
The London borough of Newham is introducing compulsory licensing for all private sector landlords from 1st January 2013 according to reports in industry publication Letting Agent Today.
Could this become part of the Oxford letting market? It will be interesting to see how other local authorities behave after Newham’s decision:
“Private landlords will pay £150 for a five-year licence if they register before the end of this year, otherwise the full fee is £500. Landlords who fail to get a licence face fines of up to £20,000.”
“Licensing of landlords had already been piloted on a small scale in the borough’s Little Ilford Neighbourhood Improvement Zone which achieved 100% compliance following enforcement action against a small number of non-compliant landlords.”
The Mayor of Newham says:
“It is clear from our consultation that our residents, including tenants in private sector homes, back our plans. This scheme shows that Newham is leading the country when it comes to tackling bad landlords who flout the law.
“We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard. We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing. “There are good landlords in Newham and we want to work with them. Unfortunately there are also some unscrupulous ones, which these proposals would target.”
“Good landlords have nothing to fear from this scheme. For the bad ones, this a clear message they must clean up their act – or pay the price. One bad house can drag down a whole street. We are doing this for the community.”
- The cost of the Newham licence is much lower than the HMO licence in Oxford which is £450 just for the first year
- While it is great that Newham want to improve the quality of the private rental sector, in principle we think that letting agents should be regulated rather than each individual property.
- The councils have plenty of powers currently to tackle bad landlords – whether they have the structure, people and funds to do so is another matter
- The risk is that Newham’s steps will preach to the converted: the good landlords will apply for licences, the bad landlords will not. Which begs he question, how does will the licences be policed and monitored during a time of public sector worry about staffing costs?
- It is important to see what devil is in the detail: how do you gain a Newham licence? What is the quality control threshold? How easy is the administrative process?