Newham Council: New Government must support Newham to protect private sector renters

16 June 2017 in Housing
Newham Council’s cabinet has committed to renew it’s ground breaking private rented sector (PRS) licensing scheme and will soon make a formal application to the new government.
​Following last night’s Cabinet, Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, called on the new housing minister to act decisively to protect vulnerable individuals and families living in the PRS by supporting Newham to continue its successful approach.

Newham was the first authority in the country to introduce borough-wide licensing, which requires all landlords to licence all properties offered for private rent.

Since licensing was introduced in 2013 the council has made some impressive interventions:
  • Taken 1,135 prosecutions for housing crimes (70 per cent of all prosecutions in London).
  • Recovered over £2.6 million a year in additional council tax
  • Banned 28 of the worst criminal landlords from operating in the borough
  • Served 2,170 notices to improve housing conditions and management
Since 2009 the number of households in Newham reliant on the (PRS) has doubled from 23 per cent to 46 per cent last year.

The original scheme comes to an end in December, and under restrictions introduced in 2015, the council must re-apply to the government for permission to continue this work over the next five years.

The scheme commands widespread support from residents, housing charities, parliamentarians and the Mayor of London.

Joining a recent enforcement raid Mayor of London Sadiq Khan saw appalling conditions suffered by vulnerable, exploited tenants at the hands of criminal landlords. He said: “I fully support the excellent work councils like Newham are doing to target the worst offenders in their borough. I will continue to support them and other boroughs who use licensing schemes effectively to drive up standards in the private rented sector.”

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales said: “Newham has been at the forefront in protecting our residents living in the private rented sector. We have shown that locally based solutions, relying on the local knowledge of officers, backed by political will of local politicians, can be highly effective.“

“While Newham has made tremendous progress in the last few years, there is still more work to do. It is a sad reality that Newham officers still regularly uncover serious housing crimes including over-crowding, illegal conversions, unsafe wiring, dangerous gas installations, inadequate heating, damp, infestation, and bad management and it is disgraceful that one in four landlords in Newham has no  gas safety certificate.”

“With almost half of Newham’s residents now renting privately, it is now more important than ever that we have the powers to tackle criminal landlords, who pay no regard to the rules and exploit vulnerable tenants by letting out overcrowded, unsuitable and dangerous properties.”

“It would be entirely wrong and a backward step for private renters rights  if one of the first acts of the new government was to deny us the right to continue with the most effective scheme in the country for tackling criminal landlords and protecting vulnerable individuals and families within the private rented sector”

Further reading: Designation of an area for Additional Licensing