'Strict licensing laws and pandemic to blame for Newham exodus,' letting agent claims

Knight Bishop in Hackney

East London letting agent Knight Bishop in Hackney - Credit: Google Maps

People left Newham in droves compared to most other local authorities in the last year because of the pandemic and new licensing laws, according to a local letting agent.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), HM Land Registry and Rightmove, analysed by conveyancing solicitors Bird & Co, revealed over the past 12 months, 21,294 people moved to Newham, while 29,701 decided to head in the opposite direction and relocate elsewhere.

Newham’s loss of 8,407 people was only beaten by Birmingham’s 13,356.

Robert Gardner, office manager at east London letting agent Knight Bishop in Hackney, said the twin issues of the pandemic and Newham’s strict licensing laws have resulted in people moving away from the borough.

“Over the last 12 months, obviously the pandemic had a lot to do with it, but there were a lot of Eastern European families who also lived in Newham who have moved home. They’ve left, completely gone.

“The licensing and how strict it was [meant] it was predominantly for families. With the families now going, it looks like there’s a lot less people coming in because for people who want to rent with their friends, Newham’s not the place to go because you can’t do it.

“We’ve seen a lot of people jumping Newham and going into Havering. So Romford, Gidea Park, Hornchurch. It’s become a lot more popular."

Newham’s licensing laws make it difficult for landlords to rent out properties to multiple tenants, preferring instead to rent out to a single family.

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Robert believes this has made it undesirable for young professionals or those who wish to rent with a couple of friends.

“That has probably killed that part of the market," he added.

The data also showed London experienced a higher net loss of people than any other region, with a total of 101,318 people.

To put that number into perspective, the second-highest figure was 3,292 in the West Midlands.

It’s worth noting however that, when taking into account population size, the West Midlands did see a higher percentage of people leave than London.

The data also revealed the South West was the most popular region to move to, with a plus migration of 27,052 people, while Devon topped the leader board for the most popular county (8,521).

A Newham Council spokesperson said: “Our property licensing regime helps to ensure that homes in Newham are safe, secure and well-maintained.

"While the whole city has faced challenges during the pandemic, we are proud that Newham is still called home by one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the whole country.”

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