• Newham, the UK’s leading PRS Licensing pioneer, backs calls to devolve power to local authorities
The Centre for London has called on the Government and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to devolve powers for the policing of private rented sector housing to councils and to increase funding for enforcement, in its report issued on Wednesday 24 May (https://centreforlondon.org/publication/licence-to-let/).
Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz OBE said: “We very much welcome this report from the Centre for London.
“Newham is the national pioneer in Private Rented Sector (PRS) licensing and has been running property schemes since 2013. PRS Licensing has allowed this Council to tackle the very worst of the ‘rogue landlords’ who exploit residents in the face of a totally broken housing market.
“Despite its recognised success, since 2015 the Council has been forced to seek Government approval for its scheme every five years, which is a highly costly and bureaucratic process, and takes funding and resources away from our ability to enforce and improve standards.
“I back calls for PRS Licensing powers to be devolved to local authorities like Newham, who know their own housing markets and how best to regulate them. There must also be a substantial increase in trained staff and funding to local authorities to allow effective enforcement of the PRS.
“Any Property Portal for a National Landlord register, as referred to in the recent Renters Reform Bill proposals, must be designed to work alongside - and in tandem with - local authority licensing schemes and not replace them.”
The housing crisis has hit Newham harder than any other London borough with the highest rent rises in the capital over the last three years, and where lack of social housing, rocketing house prices and unaffordable mortgages have pushed 54 per cent of our households into the PRS.
Newham’s last Licensing Scheme (which expired at the end of February 2023) saw 42,000 properties licensed – of which 70 per cent were subject to officer visits or audits. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, an average of 800 licensing compliance inspections have been undertaken each month to check on property conditions, safety and management.
- 84 landlords were banned from licensing properties.
- Almost 2,000 breach of licence investigations were conducted and 342 financial penalty final notices were issued, with fines between £5k-£30k.
- 6,447 enforcement letters were sent.
Newham’s new Licensing Scheme, which covers the whole borough (with the exception of Stratford Olympic Park and Royal Victoria Wards) is going live on June 1 2023 – all private landlords in the other council wards without a valid exemption must apply for a new a licence and more details at: www.newham.gov.uk/housing-homes-homelessness/rented-property-licensing
Cllr Carleene Lee-Phakoe Cabinet Member for Housing Needs, Homelessness and Private Rented Sector said: “Property licensing helps to ensure that privately rented properties are well managed. It also helps improve housing standards, tackle anti-social behaviour and keeps our residents safe. It ensures that responsible landlords receive support and creates a level playing field so that responsible landlords are not undercut by unscrupulous or rogue landlords.
“I want to remind all of our Newham landlords to apply for their new license and encourage you to make the most of our early bird discount fee of £400 for the cost of a Selective Licence application, instead of £750.
“To qualify, you need to submit your Selective Licence application by 14 July 2023. We will also be offering discounts to Licence Holders who are certified members of landlord accreditation organisations and have a warmer home rated EPC C or better.