Tower Hamlets Council has helped tenants claim back more than £100,000 from rogue landlords in the past year.
The money was recovered using rent repayment orders (RROs) that allow the council and tenants to get back up to 12 months’ rent from landlords who fail to license properties when they are required to do so.
Landlords caught letting unlicensed properties can face prosecution, a criminal conviction or an unlimited fine. Unlicensed landlords are also severely limited in their ability to take eviction proceedings against tenants.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Our housing licensing officers are working hard to clamp down on the number of unlicensed properties in the borough and to hit those who flout the rules where it hurts most – in their pockets.
“Our licensing schemes don’t only protect tenants, they also benefit legitimate landlords by raising standards across the industry. This is just one example of how we’re working to improve the housing landscape for landlords and renters across Tower Hamlets.”
The council operates three property licensing schemes in the borough:
Mandatory licensing scheme – Houses in multiple occupation (five renters or more). It has been a legal requirement borough-wide to licence these properties since 2006.
Additional licensing scheme – Covering flats or houses with three or more renters, which is also borough-wide and came into force in April 2019.
Selective licensing scheme – Covering all rented properties within the Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown areas only.
The schemes aim to ensure that:
The landlord is accredited and/or trained.
There are plans in place to deal with anti-social behaviour.
The property meets minimum standards to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the occupants are safeguarded.
The landlord is a ‘fit and proper person’ or employs agents who are.
Management arrangements are in place to report and carry out repairs.
The accommodation has enough space and facilities for the number of occupiers.
Good landlords are not disadvantaged financially by those who operate below the standards required.
Councillor Sirajul Islam, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We know that the majority of landlords play by the rules, but sadly there will always be some who put profit ahead of the people who live in their properties. We want to work with landlords to ensure that the licensing process is safe, regulated and improves the lives of managing agents and tenants. Given the penalties that can be incurred by falling foul of our regulations, it really isn’t worth the risk of letting an unlicensed property.”