Tower Hamlets council rental sector

Another council presses ahead with licensing scheme

Tower Hamlets council in east London is the latest to appear to be pressing ahead with a private rental sector licensing scheme, despite government wanting more oversight of the proposals.The authority has just launched a 12-week consultation into a proposed landlord licensing scheme which will “initially” be restricted to seven areas in the borough.

Following the pattern of other such schemes, the council in this case says it wants to use selective licensing to help tackle anti-social behaviour, improve poor housing standards and improve the management of rented accommodation in the borough.

The borough’s controversial mayor, Lutfur Rahman – currently on trial after allegations of election fraud – says: “This scheme is designed to help protect tenants’ rights and create better places to live. As well as helping tenants in the context of a housing crisis it will help those responsible landlords who want to let decent accommodation under fair conditions.”

Brandon Lewis, the housing and planning minister, says that from April 1 – next Wednesday – there will be significant reforms of what is officially called Selective Licensing.

Since 2010, local councils have had the power to licence landlords across an entire borough or jurisdiction in order to combat issues such as anti-social behaviour in so-called ‘hotspot areas’. This has led to a sharp increase in the number of schemes being introduced.

However, councils will from next month require government approval before implementing a licensing scheme if they plan to license a large area or proportion of the market – likely to be above 20 per cent of either the geographical area covered by the council or the local private rented sector.

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