Why was the Landlord Licensing Scheme introduced?

Housing in Tower Hamlets is in great demand. Between the 2001 and 2011 Censuses the number of homes grew by 25.7% to 101k. Our own analysis of the Local Land and Property Gazetteer estimates that there is currently 128k homes of which an estimated 81.5k are privately owned.

Significantly, private landlords now provide more homes than any other sector in Tower Hamlets. Indeed, it is highly significant that the private rented sector grew by 135% between 2001 and 2011 whereas social housing fell by 2.7% based on the 2011 Census.

The current population of Tower Hamlets stands at 297k but this is projected to grow to 364k by 2026, or by 22.5%. The acute shortage of affordable housing has resulted in high numbers of homeless families and thousands living in overcrowded properties whilst many newer properties in the south stand empty or under-occupied.

The Borough housing strategy is concerned with creating more choice for such households, but it also wishes to ensure that the standards of accommodation for people in private rented housing are as good as they can be especially in the older-builds.

The evidence base shows that there is a statistically significant correlation indicating direct association between private renting and ASB at property level, especially noise complaints, waste and housing notices. The research also demonstrates the links between private renting and the incidence of poor housing conditions and deprivation.  Poor housing management and low quality standards in this sector can lead to a lowering of the local environmental standards and can soon change the dynamics of the local area as people leave, house prices fall, speculative landlords move in, and the local community cohesion becomes weaker.

Property licensing helps Councils regulate privately rented properties to ensure they are safe for their occupants and that any anti-social behaviour of tenants is dealt with effectively. The Council supports the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme which aims to improve the knowledge of landlords and to help the more amateur landlords provide well managed safe homes for their tenants.

Tower Hamlets currently has three licensing schemes.

The council feels that the introduction of licensing schemes helps;

  • address the significant and persistent problems of anti-social behaviour.
  • support the councils wider work around Housing, Homelessness, enviro-crime and dealing with housing management.
  • enable the council to target bad landlords and support good ones.
  • ensure landlords deal with irresponsible tenants.
  • tenants to easily identify who is responsible for their home

Benefits of Property Licensing  

Benefits to the council

Benefits to Landlords

Benefits to communities

Benefits to tenants

Landlords be required to engage with the Council

Bad landlords will be forced to improve their practices or leave the market.

Responsible landlords will receive information and support

Increase housing demand and reduce antisocial behaviour will improve problems areas, making these areas safer and more desirable places to live.

More professional landlords should bring about improvements to the quality and management of property

Schemes should be easy to administer and explain as all private landlords in an area will be covered by a licensing scheme

A level playing field will be created, decent landlords will not be undercut by an unscrupulous minority

Reducing environmental costs and costs of crime, such as street cleaning and tackling fly tipping

Tenants could also see economic benefits, reduced heating costs and improved likelihood of regaining any deposit paid

The Council will gain extensive knowledge about private renting in part of the Borough. This will enable targeted enforcement and support to landlords

Poorly performing landlords will receive support and training to improve

Making it easier to involve landlords in wider strategies including crime reduction initiatives and local spatial strategies

Improvements to the neighbourhood would also benefit private tenants security and sense of community.

Landlords and their agents will be readily identifiable

Improved rental income

Protecting vulnerable groups who are often occupiers of privately rented accommodation which is poorly managed and maintained

Better management practices would help to increase the length of tenure and reduce incidence of unplanned moves or homelessness.

Licensing Decision Making

For Councils to implement Selective and Additional licensing schemes they need to meet certain criteria set out in the legislation and consult all interested parties. How Tower Hamlets met these requirements and details of the decisions made by Cabinet can be found in the links below;

Useful links

Fire, Gas and Electrical Safety

Property Licensing Conditions

  • Mandatory Conditions (Selective)
  • Amenity Standards and room sizes

Application Form Help

Property Licensing Enforcement


General Information