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Cash boost for Newham Council in its fight against rogue landlords

7 January 2014 in Housing
Newham Council’s pioneering work in tackling rogue private sector landlords has been recognised by the Government who have awarded the council  £1 million to help build on its success.​
The council successfully applied for funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government to develop its enforcement work. The £1.028m awarded is the biggest amount to any local authority in the country.

Using an innovative combination of planning and housing enforcement legislation, Newham Council has seen great success in combating both rogue landlords and ‘beds in sheds’. This work is complemented by the country’s first compulsory borough wide property licensing scheme which has seen tremendous results with more than 30,000 applications for licences received by the council in its first year.

This funding will be used by the council to increase both its planning and housing enforcement work. Over the past two years, enforcement action has been taken against 101 ‘beds in sheds’, 114 illegal house conversions into flats and 84 illegal conversions of houses of multiple occupation. Nine outbuildings and 12 flat conversions have been removed and 106 landlords have been successfully prosecuted for planning offences. The council has identified a further 2,000 cases with planning irregularities which will followed up with enforcement action this year.

The council also plans to improve its property database to ensure activity is targeted on criminal landlords and ‘beds in sheds’. It also plans to work with letting agencies in the borough to ensure they follow both the London Lettings Standard and current guidelines from the Office of Fair Trading.

Since property licensing was introduced, 1,997 enforcement visits have been completed on unlicensed properties, 5,078 warning letters have been sent out and 82 cautions have been issued for first time offences. In addition to this, the council is seeking to prosecute 134 landlords under the Housing Act for various offences. The highest fine so far has been £12k and at least three notorious portfolio landlords have been refused licences for over 100 properties.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “Newham is leading the country when it comes to tackling bad landlords who flout the law. This money will allow us to build on our enforcement work and continue to target the criminal landlords operating within Newham. We will never accept the exploitation of some of our most vulnerable residents by unscrupulous landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions, and we will continue to work to improve the standard of accommodation for all residents across the borough."