Newham Council property licensing scheme renewed except for East Village, Stratford
- Credit: Andrew Baker
Newham Council’s private rented sector licensing scheme has been renewed by the government - but not in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The decision means 41,000 households in Newham who rely on the initiative to protect them from rogue landlords in the private rental sector will be protected for a further five years.
The government’s long-awaited decision, which comes after months of campaigning by Newham Council, will mean a gap of two to three months will exist between the old scheme and the new one - potentially putting residents at risk.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “Almost half our residents now rely on the private rented sector and they will be relieved that the bulk of our scheme has been given the green light, we hope the government’s decision to exclude E20 [East Village] does not become a cause for concern.
“Whatever the justification for excluding E20 from the scheme, the government should not be making that decision.
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“Local people showed their overwhelming support for a borough-wide scheme and these decisions should be taken on the ground by local authorities who know their local area rather than ministers sitting in Whitehall.”
Since its introduction five years ago, the scheme has seen Newham Council instigate 1,225 prosecutions for housing crimes, equivalent to 60 per cent of all prosecutions in London.
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In addition, 28 of the worst landlords have been banned from operating in Newham while £3.1 million a year has been recovered in unpaid council tax.
Three other councils, including neighbouring borough Barking and Dagenham, have since followed Newham’s lead but the council says the government’s decision to introduce new enforcement legislation in 2015 may have deterred others.
It requires local authorities to seek government permission when introducing widespread selective licensing schemes, with the standard of proof required to gain approval described as “onerous” by Newham Council.
Sir Robin added: “If the government is genuinely committed to localism and fixing the broken private rented market, it should remove this bureaucratic and anti-democratic piece of legislation and let councils get on and introduce the right schemes to protect their private sector tenants from rogue landlords.”
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The Secretary of State has announced the approval of the London Borough of Newham’s selective licensing scheme.
“It has been determined that a blanket-wide scheme for the whole borough would not be appropriate, and will exclude the Olympic Village area. Selective targeting is just that - it needs to be targeted.”