Landlords in Lewisham are invited to a public meeting on Tuesday (15 September) to discuss proposals for selective licencing in the borough.
The proposed licensing scheme would require landlords renting out accommodation above commercial properties (such as flats above shops) for multiple occupation to obtain a licence from the council.
The council believes the licensing scheme would help improve conditions in these rented properties. It says it would ensure that landlords manage the immediate environment around their properties, including making proper provision for waste and recycling. And it would result in improved health of tenants living in these properties.
Councillor Damien Egan, cabinet member for housing, said: “With around 33,000 properties the private rented sector in Lewisham is now huge and growing every day. While most landlords play by the rules there are an increasing number of rogue landlords who are exploiting vulnerable tenants. We’re building on some high profile successes in Lewisham where we’ve prosecuted these landlords, with our new licensing scheme.
“The scheme will start with properties where we have the biggest problems, rented flats above shops. Although the rents can be very expensive some of these flats are unsafe and unfit for human habitation.”
The council estimates that there are 4,223 private lets in 1,813 properties above commercial premises across the borough of Lewisham. Evidence shows that large HMOs, which are already subject to mandatory licensing, provide more satisfactory housing than small HMOs. The council says this suggests that licensing helps to improve standards.
Under the proposed scheme any private landlord operating a private rented flat in multiple occupation above commercial premises will need to apply for a licence, show that they comply with the requirements of the licence and pay the fee. A licence is likely to cost around £100 to £110 a year.
If a landlord continues to operate a private letting without a licence then they will be liable for prosecution. They may also be liable for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO).
Lewisham Council is asking for comments on the licensing proposal in principle, the proposed standards that would need to be reached to be eligible for a license and the fees to be charged for the licence.
There will be a public meeting to discuss the proposal on Tuesday 15 September at 6pm in the Council Chamber, Civic Suite, Catford. Landlords can reserve a space at this event on Eventbrite.
The consultation will run until 5pm on 24 November 2015.