Hackney-based landlords must bring over 1,500 privately rented homes suffering serious disrepair up to scratch or face prosecution or financial penalties after Hackney Council announced new measures.
Introduced to protect the borough’s growing number of private renters, the measures will mean that landlords letting out a property in the Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards will need to hold a licence requiring them to meet acceptable standards.
“one in five of all HMOs in hackney suffer from serious hazards”
Under the property licensing measures, the Landlords of Hackney’s 4,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – homes with two or more households and shared facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and toilets – will also have to apply for a licence under the new arrangements approved by the Council’s Cabinet on Monday.
Recent estimates by the Council’s Better Renting Campaign have shown that more than 15 per cent of the 4,700 privately rented homes in these three wards, and one in five of all HMOs across the borough, suffer from serious hazards.
These range from damp and mould to dangerous boilers, exposed wiring and vermin infestations. This means over 1,500 properties covered by the new licensing schemes don’t meet minimum standards.
Affected landlords who don’t acquire a licence or fail to comply with its conditions will face a fixed penalty, a criminal prosecution leading to an unlimited fine, or be forced to repay up to a year’s rent. Serious offenders can be served with a banning order, preventing them from letting out a property, and can be placed on a rogue landlords database.
Cllr Sem Moema, Mayoral Advisor for Private Renting and Housing Affordability, said: “Introducing additional property licensing will mean landlords will have to bring hundreds of homes up to scratch in hazard hotspots where conditions are at their worst.
“In Hackney we’ve always provided advice and support to those struggling in the private sector and pushed government to do more to help renters. But this move shows that we’re also willing to intervene in the market to get renters the protection they deserve.”
One in three households in Hackney now rents privately, leading to rent increases of 36 per cent since 2011. A two-bedroom privately rented home now costs over £1,800 a month on average.