Borough-wide licensing consultation
Why do we want to introduce two new licensing schemes?
Improving standards in private rented properties are critical as higher numbers of families, and single people are now relying on the private rented sector to provide a home, and not just in the short term.
The Council’s new Corporate Strategy has the following commitment:
We will seek to deliver a full borough-wide landlord license to crack down on rogue landlords.
Our existing licensing schemes have limitations:
Not all landlords voluntarily license their properties.
Significant officer time is spent to find the right properties and ensure they apply for licenses
To avoid having to apply for a license, some landlords will illegally evict tenants or claim tenants are part of the same household when they’re not.
A borough-wide licensing scheme would make it easier to identify properties that should have a license, and there would be significantly less scope for landlords to persuade or force tenants to leave tenancies. It would also give the Council more influence over housing standards and practices across the private rented sector.
Therefore this report presents plans for two new licensing schemes in Lewisham and asks for permission to consult on these plans.
The proposal for two new licensing schemes is to cover all private rented properties in the borough.
The Council currently requires a license for Houses in Multiple Occupation above commercial properties. (The proposal is to extend this licensing scheme to cover all HMOs in the borough).
The second proposal is to apply for a selective licensing scheme, which requires permission from the Secretary of State. Certain conditions have to be met for this particular licensing scheme so extensive data analysis has been carried out:
Approximately 26% of the residential properties in the borough are private rented properties;
The stock condition of the private rented sector is below that of other sectors. It has the highest proportion of non-decent homes for example.
There seems to be demonstrable relationships between the location of the private rented sector in Lewisham and prevalence of deprivation, anti-social behaviour, crime and migration. These necessary conditions for applying for a selective licensing scheme differ in strength depending on the area of the borough.
The proposal is that the Council applies for a borough-wide selective licensing scheme. At the same time, the application will group wards with similar characteristics together in specific designations.
The Council has to consult on both these plans, so public consultation will now take place between May–August 2019. The responses will be presented to Mayor and Cabinet in the autumn.
Lewisham is lucky to have such committed and capable officers who have invested a lot of time and effort to get us to this point.