London Boroughs Adopting Stricter Landlord Licensing Schemes

Southwark council

A growing amount of councils are adopting a tougher stance on mandatory landlord registration for licensing schemes, introducing selective licensing schemes in some wards or across the council in order to fight rogue landlords, poor property conditions, poor management and anti-social behaviour. For instance, the London Boroughs of Newham, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest have all been designated for landlord licensing.

Strict landlord licensing schemes could become a burden for letting agents and tenants

However, some schemes are beginning to raise eyebrows are they impose a significant additional burden not only on landlords, but also on letting agents and tenants. Landlords who fail to comply with the schemes will face fines, including rent repayments or being banned altogether. Local licensing schemes are therefore increasingly being taken into account by landlords when making investment decisions in an area. The additional compliance costs for landlords and letting agents could well end up being passed on to tenants under the form of higher rent.

Among the most recent developments is, first of all, the adoption of a selective licensing scheme from 1. November 2015 by the London Borough of Harrow in the Edgware Ward. This will be a pilot project involving regular compliance visits to the property by the landlord or the managing agent.

Southwark Council introduces a selective landlord licensing scheme in focus areas

Southwark Council on 10 August 2015 also announced an additional landlord licensing scheme for HMOs (House in Multiple Occupation) previously not covered under  they Mandatory Licensing scheme for HMOs – this extension will apply to every privately rented property in the council shared by three or more unrelated tenants. In addition, Southwark council will introduce a selective licensing scheme for all privately rented properties in selected areas. Both additional licensing schemes will also apply from 1 November 2015.

“The Council says that their enforcement activity involving multiple occupied properties has increased by 289% over the past 5 years, leading to a 500% increase in the number of HMO prosecutions over the same period. Research by London Property Licensing places Southwark in the top five London councils when it comes to taking housing prosecutions.”

Landlords impacted by the new measures and hence having to obtain a license for their property in Southwark will be able to apply online from 1 November 2015. Additional administrative costs means that working with the right letting agent and finding the right tenants will be more important than ever. This is where Wonego can help.

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