Plans to introduce a controversial landlord licensing scheme in London are now under discussion.
Ealing Council is consulting on a proposal to bring in licences for all Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and selective licensing for privately rented homes in certain areas of the borough – a move the RLA has dismissed as unnecessary.
Currently some larger HMOs in Ealing are licensed, but the council is now carrying out a formal consultation into plans to introduce the scheme to all of these properties – an estimated 15,000.
This is despite the government currently consulting on plans to extend mandatory HMO licensing.
The plans would also include Section 257 HMOs – buildings converted into self-contained flats – and all of Private Rented Sector homes in five wards; Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Green and Southall Broadway. This would account for a further 5,000 properties.
The council said it is bringing forward the selective licensing plans across the five wards as there are a high number of privately rented homes that have fallen into disrepair in the area, along with high levels of anti-social behaviour.
However Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said that legislation to protect tenants and prosecute landlords already exists, but is not being properly enforced.
He said: “The law already requires landlords to provide homes that are safe, legal and secure, yet the only landlords who will pay for licences will be those who are already legal – and the impact will be higher rents for tenants due to the increased cost.
“This is a distraction tactic by the council which prosecuted only four landlords between 2011-2014, ranking 17th of London boroughs.
“The London Borough of Ealing should support good landlords by seeking out the criminals who operate in their borough and not creating unnecessary bureaucracy. It is an urban myth that landlords can control anti-social behaviour by tenants whereas it is a council responsibility to bring a prosecution.”
The proposed licensing fee is £500 for a selective licence and £1,100 plus £30 per habitable room for an additional licence. The plans are likely to affect 20,000 homes in total, with the 12 week consultation process to end on April 3.
Ealing is one of the largest boroughs in London with more than 137,000 homes, of which 36,000 are rented from private landlords. Census figures for 2011 showed that private renting increased by nearly 70 per cent over 10 years from 2001.
Under the new proposals a licensed landlord would have to comply with several conditions relating to the management and condition of the property, including gas, electrical, fire safety and the facilities provided.
A written tenancy agreement would be required and anti-social behaviour by tenants would not be permitted.
To take part in the consultation click here.