Minister applauds Newham’s action in tackling private landlords

Pictured while at a Newham property are, left to right, Councillor Andrew Baikie, executive member f

Pictured while at a Newham property are, left to right, Councillor Andrew Baikie, executive member for housing and customer services, Sir Robin Wales, Newham Mayor and Jack Dromey, MP, Shadow Housing Minister - Credit: Archant

The Shadow Housing Minister has applauded Newham Council’s actions in tackling private landlords over poor property conditions.

The minister, Jack Dromey, accompanied Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales on a joint operation between the council, Metropolitan Police and UK Border Agency, which resulted in a number of landlords threatened with prosecution.

The Shadow Minister said: “It was inspiring to see first hand the positive work Newham is doing to improve the lives of thousands of tenants by tackling rogue landlords and improving housing standards. It was shocking to see the Dickensian conditions that so many tenants endure.”

Mr Dromey heard how Newham is the first borough in the country to apply mandatory licensing to all of its privately rented properties.

The pioneering scheme, which covers an estimated 40,000 private tenancies, came into force at the beginning of the year. So far, 30,000 applications for property licences have been made by Newham landlords.

The council consulted extensively with residents, stakeholders, private sector tenants, landlords and lettings agencies before introducing the scheme. It had the support of 74 per cent of residents and 76 per cent of private tenants who took part in the consultation.

As a result of the operation in Forest Gate, five arrests were made. Two houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) were found without a licence and with alleged management regulation offences. The council is seeking to prosecute the landlords of both properties.

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A further ten homes which were rented to individual families were found without a licence.

The landlords of these properties will be cautioned and informed they must get a licence, which is valid for a year before it has to be renewed. If the conditions are not met, they will be prosecuted.

Sir Robin Wales said: “I am pleased Mr Dromey has recognised the hard work Newham is doing to improve conditions in the private rented sector. We will not accept vulnerable tenants in Newham being exploited by unscrupulous landlords. By ensuring properties are well managed and meet a good standard, we will also eliminate problems, which are sometimes associated with poor quality private rented housing. We are leading the country with this ground-breaking scheme with other councils following our example.”