Landlords across Islington could soon need licences due to rise of ‘dodgy operators’

Islington Council prosecuted two landlords last year for dangerous and sub-standard conditions after

Islington Council prosecuted two landlords last year for dangerous and sub-standard conditions after 35 people were found living in a Canonbury HMO. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

Landlords in Finsbury Park could be forced to get licensed because it has the highest number of complaints from renters in Islington.

The council also wants to bring in a borough-wide licensing scheme for all owners of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) with three or more people, as they have some of the worst housing standards.

Requirements could include provision of a kitchen and bathroom, minimum room sizes and health and safety.

A five-year licence will cost HMO landlords £288 per letting and Finsbury Park owners £500.

Landlords who don't apply for a licence or who breach it could be banned, hit with an unlimited fine or a Civil Penalty Notice of up to £30,000.

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A consultation on the proposals has been launched and will run until November.

Housing boss Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: "London's ongoing housing crisis means far too many dodgy operators are able to take advantage of people's desperate need for a home, and are profiting off substandard properties with poor living conditions.

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"There are a great number of responsible landlords in the borough, and these licensing schemes will help the council to ensure conscientious landlords are rewarded, while rogue operators offering poor conditions are more easily identified."

The scheme follows a successful pilot in Caledonian Road and Holloway Road, which has seen improvements since launching in 2015.

More than a third of Islington's population live in private rented homes.

A similar scheme was rolled out in Hackney last year but has had problems. Good landlords complained they were being targeted and forced to cough up cash because of a small handful of rogue operators, and by the time enforcement began in February only a quarter of landlords had applied.

Islington's private renters champion Cllr Jenny Kay said: "As a private renter, I have experienced first-hand the difficulties some tenants face. There are many good landlords, but too often people are being forced to accept poor quality and sometimes unsafe living conditions.

"We hope these latest licensing schemes, if implemented, will help to improve conditions in the private rented sector."

Take part in the consultation here.

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