Private tenants in Tower Hamlets will benefit from better quality accommodation and greater protection from criminal landlords following the implementation of the new additional licensing scheme on 1 April 2019.
Conditions attached to the licence ensure the property is managed effectively and provides a safe home for the tenants. The scheme also provides protection against anti-social behaviour by ensuring landlords take up references from tenants and give new responsibilities to landlords to account for their tenants’ behaviour.
This new scheme, which covers over 9,000 homes, adds to the existing selective scheme in force in the areas of Whitechapel, Spitalfields, & Banglatown and Weavers wards and the Mandatory scheme that includes larger multi-occupied properties anywhere in the borough.
This additional licensing extends to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) with three or four occupants living as two or more households who share facilities that are not already covered by the mandatory scheme that exists for larger HMOs of five or more tenants.
This scheme will also apply to flats with five or more tenants living as two or more households in purpose built blocks with three or more flats. These properties are no longer licensable under the mandatory scheme following changes to the legislation in October last year but will need to be licensed under this new scheme.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “We are introducing an additional licensing scheme so landlords will have to demonstrate that they provide accommodation that is to an acceptable standard. This is just another step we are taking to protect tenants and drive up standards in the private rented sector.”
Councillor Sirajul Islam Deputy Mayor for Housing and Statutory Deputy Mayor said: “The extension of our licencing scheme to include flats of multiple occupation gives important protections to more people in Tower Hamlets. We often come across overcrowded flats shared by multiple people and this new scheme will improve amenity standards and protect the health and safety of these occupants. This will be welcome news for many private renters in Tower Hamlets”
Tenants will be able to check whether their home is licensed and the council has a special service to help tenants apply for a rent repayment order that could see up to 12 months rent repaid to them if they are living in an unlicensed property. The council can also recover rent paid through housing benefit.
Landlords who fail to apply a licence could face prosecution, an unlimited fine and paying a rent refund to tenants. They also run the risk of a civil penalty.
Landlords face sanctions for failing to get a HMO licence. This includes the council or tenants claiming up to 12 months rent back through a rent repayment order.
At just £520, the fee for a five year licence is one of the lowest in London. It represents a small investment for good landlords who also want to see criminal landlords driven out of business because by offering substandard accommodation they are able to undercut those who want to do the right thing.
The application form and guidance for landlords is available online now.
Information on the landlord scheme and a full list of licensed landlords is held on the council’s website.
Posted on Monday 11th March 2019