Lewisham Council are consulting on proposals to introduce licensing for all private rented homes in Lewisham. You can access and complete the consultation here, by the deadline of 20 August 2019.
Problems in the private rented sector
The Council have identified a number of problems in private rented homes compared to other sectors:
- Privately rented homes are more likely to be older.
- The private rented sector includes a high proportion of converted flats, many not converted to required standards.
- The private rented sector has the highest proportion of non-decent homes compared to other sectors.
- Health and safety hazards are more common in the private rented sector than any other; many of these are serious and pose significant health risks.
- The private rented sector has the lowest proportion of homes with central heating.
The proposed solution
Lewisham Council want to introduce additional licensing schemes to the two licensing schemes already operating and relating to HMOs.
The consultation is on the introduction of two schemes:
Scheme 1 – Licensing houses in multiple occupation: current licensing applies to HMOs above commercial premises. The proposal is to extend additional licensing to over all HMOs across the borough. This can be implemented following a consultation and does not need to be approved by central government.
Scheme 2 – Selective licensing: the proposal is for a selective licensing scheme to be implemented across the borough. This would mean that all privately rented properties would be licensable. This would have to be approved by central government after the consultation.
Depending on the results of the consultation, Lewisham Council anticipate implementing the licensing of all HMOs (Scheme 1) before receiving the necessary approval for Scheme 2.
What does this mean for landlords? By getting a licence, landlords will be deemed to be agreeing to comply with a number of conditions seen to protect tenants and the neighbourhood, including production of a gas safety certificate, keeping any electrical appliances and furniture in a safe condition, installation of smoke alarms in proper working order.
There are approximately 32,000 privately rented properties in Lewisham – about 26% of all homes. Approximately 6,000 of these are homes in multiple occupation (HMOs), i.e., homes with shared bathroom or kitchen facilities where there are at least three people from more than one household.
According to a survey of English landlords and tenants, conducted on behalf of Citizens Advice, half of landlords do not know or understand their legal obligations. Meanwhile, renters aren’t aware of their rights or don’t feel able to enforce them.
A previous investigation by The Guardian found 90% of local authorities failed to fine rogue landlords.
You can find out more about the consultation in Lewisham here. To request a paper consultation or for any queries, you can contact email@example.com, 02083147120.