Mayor John Biggs planning to extend protections for private sector tenants

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The council is launching a consultation to see if there is public support for an additional licensing scheme to give tenants in multiple let private sector properties greater clarity and security about their rights and what they can expect from a property and a landlord.

The proposed license will allow the council to actively target landlords who flout current standards, while supporting landlords who are compliant.

Aimed at of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which are defined as any property (including flats) let to three people from two different households who share an amenity such as a kitchen or bathroom.  

HMOs can also include buildings not entirely converted into self-contained flats or those converted into self-contained flats that are not predominantly owner-occupied or do not meet specific building requirements.

Tower Hamlets has up to 9,000 HMOs.

Residents of HMOs are more likely to experience issues which impact upon quality of life and health and safety, such as inadequate fire protection, insufficient kitchen and/or bathroom amenities and undersized bedrooms.

Tower Hamlets already plays an active role in protecting private-sector residents in HMOs, with two licensing schemes currently operating that regulate housing conditions and standards.

The third scheme will reach those landlords who have tried to avoid licensing or whose properties are not currently covered by the existing schemes.

The proposed additional scheme would place a legal responsibility on the landlord to identify themselves, the property and any management arrangements. This would allow for a more proactive approach to tackling unsafe accommodation and help Council Officers to identify these premises.  

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:

“Tackling the housing crisis is one of my priorities. Driving up standards in the private rented sector is a key part of our strategy to ensure residents have a decent place to live. We have many good landlords operating in Tower Hamlets, but there are others who do not maintain their properties, leaving tenants at risk which is simply unacceptable. We have already launched our Private Rented Charter, but now want to extend our licencing to protect residents in Houses of Multiple Occupancy”.

Councillor Sirajul Islam, Statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing added:

“The council is already doing much to ensure that residents live in properties that are fit for purpose. Sadly, some landlords let-out properties that are overcrowded, unclean or unsafe. It’s unacceptable for people to be living in places that are cramped and overcrowded, or where there are fire-risks and poor or inadequate amenities. This new license will allow the council to act more decisively against those who put tenants at risk, while working with good landlords and ensuring that the greatest number of multiple occupancy accommodation is licensed and fit for habitation.” 

Further information about the consultation and Houses of Multiple Occupation

1 - The consultation can be found online at and responses are required by 24 May 2018.

Four drop-in sessions are also being held where member of the public, tenants and landlords can find out more about the consultation. All sessions will take place between 6.30 and 8.30pm on the following dates:

  • 15 March at Professional Development Centre Bethnal Green G04 (229 Bethnal Green Rd, London E2 6AB)
  • 28 March at Idea Store, Canary Wharf  (Churchill Place E14 5RB – at the foot of the Barclays Tower)
  • 12 April at Idea Store Bow (1 Gladstone Place, Roman Road E3 5ES)
  • 23 April at Mulberry Place, Tower Hamlets Council Chambers (5 Clove Crescent E14 2BG)

 2 – Full details of the definition of a House of Multiple Occupation can be found along with the consultation

 3 - There are currently two licensing schemes operating in Tower Hamlets that apply to Houses of Multiple Occupation. These are:

  • Mandatory HMO licences – for properties of three or more storeys with five or more tenants from two or more households. This is Borough-wide.
  • Selective licences – this is required for any privately rented property irrespective of number of floors or tenants within Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown wards.

 4 - Examples of HMOs that are not managed effectively and therefore present a risk to tenants and/or the area include:

  • Where the HMO has not been set up to meet the needs of the number of people living there, for example, because it lacks adequate fire precautions; insufficient kitchen, bathroom or toilet amenities; bedrooms are undersized, etc.
  • Where the external condition adversely impacts on the general character and amenity of the area.
  • Where the internal condition, such as poorly maintained amenities, leaks, damp and dirty conditions, pest infestations or overcrowding adversely impact on the health safety and welfare of the tenants and the landlords are failing to take the appropriate remedial action.
  • Where there are significant and persistent problems of anti-social behaviour affecting other residents and/or the local community and the landlords are not taking steps to address the issues.
  • The lack of management or poor management skills or practices is otherwise adversely impacting on the health, safety and welfare of the tenants and/or the wider community.
Posted on Thursday 1st March 2018