Newham Council’s licensing scheme ‘taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut’

Newham Council’s new property licensing scheme is too hard on private landlords, according to The Landlord’s Syndicate.

Under the new legislation, approved by Cabinet on June 21, landlords will pay �150 for a five year licence if they register before 2013, otherwise the full fee is �500.

Those who fail to obtain a license face fines of up to �20,000.

But Simon Thompson, chairman of the Landlord Syndicate, a business community supporting and advising private landlords, thinks Newham Council may be “taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Mr Thompson said: “Despite the protestations of campaigners against rogue landlords, the courts prosecute less than 500 bad landlords a year in England and Wales - out of a private rental housing stock of more than 3 million homes.

“These prosecutions are brought by councils. If so many rogue landlords are out there, why are they not bringing more prosecutions under existing laws?”

But a council consultation reported 75 per cent of residents and 76 per cent of private tenants supported the borough-wide licensing scheme.

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Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard.

“We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing.

“There are good landlords in Newham and we want to work with them. Unfortunately there are also some unscrupulous ones - which these proposals would target.”