Residents who lived in unlicensed house shares have been helped to claim back a total of more than £1m in rent.
The news comes as Cabinet approved plans to improve conditions in HMOs, including tackling overcrowding, damp and mould by renewing an additional HMO licensing scheme for properties in the borough, and extend it to previously excluded areas, including Weavers, Whitechapel, and Spitalfields and Banglatown.
After being approved on 25 October, these new rules will come into force on 1 April 2024 for five years.
Over the last few years, Tower Hamlets Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards Team has been cracking down on landlords who run houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) without the correct licence and forcing the landlords to pay back rent through rent repayment orders (RRO).
Cllr Kabir Hussain, Cabinet Member for the environment and the climate emergency, said:
“Not having an HMO licence means that the renters are not guaranteed the minimum-sized living space, fire safety regulations may not be followed, and waste may not be disposed of properly.
“Not only is this dangerous for residents, it is also unethical and unfair for them to pay rent on a property which is not of a satisfactory standard.
“This is why the council has taken a tough stance on this issue and will continue to hold landlords who do not have appropriate licences to account.
“We will keep helping residents who are living in unlicenced HMOs to get their rent back.”
In total, the council was able to help 299 renters claim back £1,043,047 in rent repayment orders (RRO), and they have been grateful for the assistance.
Renter Liam Clark, who received his first payment of £4,700 in RRO, said: “I would like to thank the council again for your stellar professionalism and exemplary persistence on our application. It fills me with optimism to see our public services performing so well and I am personally inspired by your commitment to building a better future for the housing market by keeping it fair and accountable.”
Another renter, Simon, said: “I would like to thank the counicl again on mine and Lisa's behalf for all the work you did for us. You really made a difference for us.”
For more information about HMOs and the new rules, please visit Mandatory House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing (towerhamlets.gov.uk)
Posted on Thursday 2nd November 2023