Newham Mayor tells Commons committee: “Voluntary property schemes do not work”

'Shed with bed' in Tower Hamlets Road, Forest Gate.

'Shed with bed' in Tower Hamlets Road, Forest Gate. - Credit: Archant

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales told a Commons select committee the council had to enforce licensing because private landlords will not sign up to voluntary schemes.

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales: "Voluntary accreditation simply doesn't work".

Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales: "Voluntary accreditation simply doesn't work". - Credit: Archant

Appearing before a Communities and Local Government Select Committee last week, the Mayor said he had tried to introduce a borough-wide voluntary intiative to regulate unruly landlords but only 5 per cent of them registered.

Sir Robin added: “We will never accept private sector tenants being directly exploited by landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions. One bad house can drag down a whole street.

“All the evidence - and we have tried it extensively - is voluntary accreditation simply doesn’t work.”

Newham Council rolled out the country’s first mandatory property licensing scheme on January 1 in which landlords who do not register themselves with the local authority face fines of up to £20,000.

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The council also drew attention when it created a task force to combat illegal ramshackle buildings at the bottom of gardens - often referred to as “sheds with beds” - closing 500 of them across seven wards.

Around 15,000 private landlords signed up for the new scheme which represents about 75 per cent of the number operating in the borough.

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The council say the same percentage of residents and private tenants support mandatory regulation and housing charity Shelter has also backed the scheme.

But it has been criticised by the National Landlords Association (NLA) for being heavy-handed while Mark Alexander, founder of website, said the scheme was “a tax on good landlords”.

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