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News: London council says licensing regimes ‘make renting fairer’

Fri, 19 Feb 21

A London council describes two new licensing schemes as ‘making renting fairer’ - even though they are launched during the pandemic.

Islington’s Labour council first suggested the two schemes in February last year but their implementation was delayed because of Coronavirus. However, despite the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government urging councils to be cautious on launching such schemes while the pandemic is in full flow, the London authority is making the move. 

One scheme is borough-wide licensing HMOs, while the second scheme is a selective licensing scheme for one area. Both schemes are now active. 

The council, which has 63,000 households in the private rental sector, has had a pilot HMO project in place for six years and a statement claims this “has led to an improvement in the management of properties.”

The selective licensing scheme is for Finsbury Park ward which, the council says, “has the poorest housing conditions in private rented property in the borough.”

The council continues: “The two licensing schemes allow the council to set minimum standards for property management, including the provision of kitchen and bathroom facilities, room sizes, health and safety (eg fire, gas and electrical safety checks) and kept to an appropriate standard.

“At the same time, the licensing schemes benefit responsible landlords by levelling the playing field, ensuring that rogue landlords who avoid maintenance are not saving money by renting properties in poor conditions. Accredited landlords are also offered a discounted application fee."

A spokesman for the authority adds: “These new licensing schemes will help protect private renters and also ensure that conscientious landlords are rewarded. There are a great many responsible landlords in the borough and schemes like this help to level the playing field.

“Licensing schemes are also powerful tools that allow the council to use data to identify properties with poor conditions and take appropriate action. We’ve taken significant enforcement action in recent years against landlords and lettings agents who don’t treat private renters fairly and we will continue to stand up for our residents.”

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