Q. I am a Landlord of a rental Property in the Canary Wharf area and have heard about a new scheme in operation by the Local Council of each borough to introduce blanket licensing of all rental homes? Is this now in existence across the board and if so what do I need to do to comply?
A. As it stands this is only operational in the London Borough of Newham at the moment but a second London council is set to introduce mandatory blanket licensing of all private rented properties across its borough. Barking and Dagenham council also in East London will introduce the scheme from September 1st 2014. A five-year licence will cost £180, rising to £500 after September 1st. Fines for not licensing your property will be £20,000 and there will be £5,000 penalties for any breaches of the licence. Licence holders must be a “fit and proper person”. Nearly one in five homes in the borough are privately rented and over 42% of these homes have cold, damp or mould or present a fire risk to the occupants. Disrepair, poor kitchen facilities and gas safety are also an issue. Across the board there is a growing perception that poorly managed privately rented properties have a negative effect on neighbourhoods, with anti-social behaviour, noise nuisance and accumulation of refuse. Some of these complaints can be linked to the failure of some private landlords to manage their properties effectively, hence the decision to licence Landlords in an effort to monitor the private housing sector. Newham Council introduced the landlord licensing scheme in January last year. The borough has so far received 32,517 licence applications and bought 185 prosecutions for failures to licence. Canary Wharf falls under the demise of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets who are not yet operating the scheme but it is widely thought in the industry that the majority of all the London Boroughs will also follow suit and introduce the scheme at some point in the future. So whilst you can relax at the moment do keep yourself informed as failing to comply and purchase a licence will result in a hefty fine if you are caught out.