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Council chief slams government over private rental licensing curb

The Mayor of Newham council in London has made an outspoken attack on the government following the restrictions on landlord licensing scheme which came into effect this week. Two years after becoming the first local authority in England to introduce borough-wide private rented sector licensing, Newham Council claims to have licensed 100 per cent of its rental properties.

However, from yesterday any council looking to introduce a licensing scheme covering more than 20 per cent of its area or 20 per cent of local privately rented homes within the authority boundaries, will need to obtain permission from the Communities Secretary.

Newham’s scheme was introduced in 2013, citing what has become familiar claims from local authorities up and down the country – to combat anti-social behaviour, improve housing standards and curb overcrowding.

In that time, more than 35,000 properties have been licensed, which corresponds with the number of private rented properties in the borough identified in the 2011 census.

In the past two years 25 landlords responsible for 150 properties have been banned, over 1,000 landlords have given the council cause for concern and are on special 12 month licences, and 472 prosecutions have been made against private landlords with the highest fine so far reaching £30,000.

In addition, the council has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds from the licensing.

Now Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham has hit out at the announcement from housing minister Brandon Lewis saying: “These overly bureaucratic measures from the government will strangle councils’ ability to tailor licensing schemes to local needs. Local authorities and residents are in the best position to determine whether a property licensing scheme is needed for their area, not Whitehall. Strong evidence is already required to introduce borough-wide licensing so this is redundant legislation, creating more hoops for local authorities to jump through.”

Wales claims that good landlords have nothing to fear from private rented sector licensing and has written to Lewis asking that its proposals be reversed.

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