More than 500 residents, landlords and tenants have shared their views as part of a 12-week consultation across the borough and beyond on two proposed new private rented property licensing schemes.
The first is a proposal to introduce large scale selective licensing in 18 wards of the borough, where evidence of poor housing conditions and anti-social behaviour meets the statutory criteria for a selective licensing designation.
The Council considers that the proposed designation is the most effective way to regulate the condition, management and occupation of privately rented properties in the borough and to tackle the anti-social behaviour (ASB) associated with them.
The second is a proposal to introduce a borough-wide additional licensing scheme to regulate the management, use, occupation and condition of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). The Council considers that a significant number of HMOs in the borough are managed ineffectively and that their mismanagement is contributing to social problems such as anti-social behaviour.
The current property licensing scheme in Waltham Forest began in Spring 2015 and has been effective in tackling antisocial behaviour. Some landlords rent out substandard, overcrowded and in some cases, dangerous, accommodation and the current scheme has been effective in improving housing conditions, and protecting residents.
Since the scheme started, nearly 26,000 licenses have been applied for and 1,000 visits/actions relating to ASB incidents associated with privately rented properties have taken place. As well as this, 94 successful prosecutions have been undertaken, resulting in more than £300,000 in court-imposed fines; and 95 Civil Penalties have been issued, with an average penalty of £7,445.
The Council has also made 21 Interim Management Orders to take over the management of unlicensed properties.
However, the current scheme comes to an end in March 2020. If the new schemes were introduced, they would come into effect from 1 April 2020.
With the private rented sector in Waltham Forest continuing to be the fastest growing housing sector, making up almost 40 per cent of the borough's housing stock, the Council believes private rented property licensing is the best way to most effectively regulate decent living conditions for residents relying on the private rented sector.
Councillor Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “It’s great that so many residents, landlords and tenants have already shared their views on the consultation but we still want to hear from more people.
“There is nothing more important than the roof over your head and the current private rented property licensing scheme has dealt with a lot of issues in this sector; however, problems remain and some renters still face hazardous conditions.
“With a chronic shortage of social housing and more and more people being priced out of the housing market, renting is becoming the only option for thousands of people and we want to ensure that private sector rented properties in our borough are well managed and meet a good standard and we believe these proposals will help us to do that.”
The consultation runs until Monday 29 April 2019. Local people and interested parties can share their views by visiting: www.walthamforest.gov.uk/PropertyLicensingConsultation