Unscrupulous landlords in Hackney, east London, who leave tenants living in substandard conditions, will be forced to improve the condition of their properties or pay tenants back up to a year’s rent under new measures passed by Hackney Council.
The approval of new powers to protect the borough’s growing number of private renters mean that up to than 1,500 privately rented homes blighted by serious hazards or disrepair must now be brought up to scratch by landlords or they could face prosecution or financial penalties.
The new property licensing measures will mean that landlords letting out a property in the Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards will need to hold a licence requiring them to meet acceptable standards.
Landlords of Hackney’s 4,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) will also have to apply for a licence under the new arrangements approved by the Council’s cabinet this week.
Affected landlords who do not acquire a licence or fail to comply with its conditions will face a fixed penalty, a criminal prosecution leading to an unlimited fine, or be forced to pay back up to a year’s rent. Serious offenders can be served with a banning order, preventing them from letting out a property, and placed on a rogue landlords database.
Cllr Sem Moema, mayoral advisor for private renting and housing affordability, said: “As a long term renter in Hackney myself, I’ve experienced first hand a private rented sector in which the odds are stacked all too firmly in favour of landlords. These new measures are a milestone in our commitment to challenging this and creating a better system for renters in the borough.
“We know that many landlords provide a good service to their tenants, but all too many fail to do so. Introducing additional property licensing will mean landlords will have to bring hundreds of homes up to scratch in hazard hotspots where conditions are at their worst.
“In Hackney we’ve always provided advice and support to those struggling in the private sector and pushed government to do more to help renters - but this move shows that we’re also willing to intervene in the market to get renters the protection they deserve.”