Labour council defies government advice and attacks “dodgy operators”

Government advice to local authorities to sit tight with new licensing proposals during the Coronavirus pandemic appears to have been ignored by the Labour-controlled Islington council.

The authority has confirmed that it’s introducing two new schemes following formal consultation processes last summer and autumn.

“We will not tolerate dodgy operators taking advantage of people’s desperate need for a home. Licensing schemes are powerful tools to help us protect private renters, as they enable the council to use data to identify properties with poor conditions and take appropriate enforcement action” says a council spokesman.

“The council can and does act to protect private renters and we’ve taken significant enforcement action against rogue landlords and dodgy lettings agents recently” he continues.

“Schemes like this also help the council to ensure that conscientious landlords are rewarded. There are a great many responsible landlords in the borough and schemes like this help to level the playing field.”

The first scheme is a borough-wide scheme licensing HMOs.

The council claims that HMOs have some of Islington’s poorest housing standards, with many conversions having inadequate fire safety measures. A pilot HMO licensing scheme in parts of the borough has been in place since 2015 and – according to a council statement – has led to an improvement in the management of properties.

The second scheme is a selective licensing scheme for Finsbury Park ward, building on the borough-wide HMO licensing scheme. Finsbury Park ward has the poorest housing conditions in private rented property in the borough.

The council claims that the licensing schemes will allow it “to set minimum standards for property management, including the provision of kitchen and bathroom facilities, room sizes, health and safety (e.g. fire, gas and electrical safety checks) and kept to an appropriate standard.”

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