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Tower Hamlets extends scheme to protect private renters

Private tenants in Tower Hamlets will continue to benefit from better quality accommodation and greater protection following the decision to renew the Selective Licensing Scheme for an additional five years.

The scheme will continue to protect renters until October 2026, covering all privately rented property in areas which suffer from significant and persistent anti-social behaviour (ASB).

The decision was approved by the Mayor and Cabinet after an extensive consultation and survey process was carried out by the council at the end of 2020 which backed the extension.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “The extension of the Selective Licensing Scheme ensures we can continue to protect tenants and drive up the quality of private rented accommodation.  We are using the powers at our disposal to protect renters and want government to let us do even more so we can extend the scheme borough wide. We will continue to stick up for the rights of renters and keep lobbying the government on this.”

The current Selective Licensing Scheme has been in operation in Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown since October 2016 and has put a legal duty on landlords or persons responsible for the privately rented properties to apply for a licence. It requires a high evidential threshold for its introduction which is why these wards were selected.

The scheme also protects tenants from eviction if the landlord has not applied for a licence and current licences issued by Environmental Health and Trading Standards will need to be renewed on expiry.

Cllr Eve McQuillan, Cabinet Member for Planning and Social Inclusion said: “Too many landlords in the borough still fail in their obligations to their tenants. Landlord licensing has been a game changer for us to take action against rogue landlords so I’m really pleased we’ve extended the Selective Licensing Scheme. We’re very clear that we’re on the side of tenants and want to see big reforms in the private rented sector to reset the balance of power between landlords and renters.”

Since its launch, the scheme has allowed for the effective management of rented properties to prevent and deal with anti-social behaviour originating from the private rented sector and has made overall improvements to property conditions across these neighbourhoods.

Tower Hamlets will now focus on enforcing several areas to ensure the standards of the scheme are upheld. This includes issuing fines to landlords or agents who fail to license their properties; effective management of rent properties to prevent anti-social behaviour and taking action against landlords or agents who fail to maintain their properties to a good standard.

To date, Environmental Health staff have recovered £320,000 in rent repayment orders for tenants where landlords have not licensed their properties across the borough.

Posted on Wednesday 2nd June 2021