Newham Council's additional licensing scheme set to continue until December 2022
Published on Wed, 18th Oct 2017 10:48
Newham Council’s additional landlord licensing scheme has been renewed for a further five years and will continue operating until 31 December 2022.
The decision was made by Newham Council’s Mayor and Cabinet at a meeting on 15 June 2017. The scheme boundary has also changed slightly. Rather than a complete borough wide scheme, the ‘E20’ area has been excluded from the scheme designation.
With thousands of licences set to expire on 31 December 2017, the council are busy writing out to licensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlords and encouraging them to renew their licences now. The scheme applies to all HMOs occupied by three or more people who share facilities, plus so-called ‘section 257 HMOs’.
Discounted fees if landlords apply now
To encourage a high level of renewal applications, the council is offering a £450 discount per property for applications submitted by 14 December 2017. Once the early bird discount period has ended, the additional licence fee will rise to £1,250 per property, a 47% increase on the fee charged under the old scheme.
Secretary of State to approve or refuse new selective licensing scheme
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Newham’s landmark selective licensing scheme for single family lets will be renewed.
Following a change in the approval process in 2015 (read here), the council need permission from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to introduce a licensing scheme covering more than 20% of the borough.
The council’s application was submitted to government in July 2017 although no decision has yet been made. At that time, the council reported that over the last five years, they had uncovered inhuman and unsafe conditions and made impressive interventions to protect tenants. They reported:
1,135 housing prosecutions
28 of the worst landlords banned from operating in the borough
£2.6m a year in additional council tax
2,170 notices served to improve housing conditions and management.
Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales said:
“Local authorities and our residents will be watching this decision closely. This is one of the first substantial tests of the new government’s housing policy in providing local authorities with genuine powers to protect tenants, tackle criminal landlords and drive up standards across the private rented sector.
“Newham was the first local authority to take decisive action to safeguard vulnerable families and individuals in the private rented sector by introducing borough-wide licensing back in 2013. We have shown that local solutions, informed by the knowledge of local officers, and backed by political will of local politicians, can be highly effective.
“While Newham has made significant progress, there is still more work to do. It is a sad reality that, every week, our officers unearth yet further examples of serious housing crimes; from overcrowding to pest infestations, botched wiring and gas installations to illegal and unsafe conversations.
“With almost half of Newham’s residents now renting privately, it is more important than ever that government allow us to retain the powers to tackle criminal landlords”.
With a new selective licensing designation requiring three months notice, it seems the current scheme will end on 31 December 2017, with a time lag before any new scheme would come into force. All eyes are now on the Secretary of State to see what they will decide and when.
Further information about property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in Newham can be found at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/newham.