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Fresh crackdown on Islington’s rogue landlords

Licence scheme bid to stop operators ‘getting away’ with high rent and poor accommodation

09 August, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Cllr Diarmaid Ward: ‘We share common cause with good landlords’

“ROGUE” landlords will be targeted under a planned new licensing scheme – but letting agents warn it will penalise “good” operators.

Around 5,500 landlords who own a property lived in by three or more people – known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – will have to register for a licence from next year if Islington Council’s plans are approved.

Meanwhile, all landlords renting in Finsbury Park will have to have a licence for their properties regardless of size.

Town Hall housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward explained that the scheme would “protect the rights of everybody” in Islington.

He said: “Because there’s a housing crisis there are rogue landlords getting away with excessive rent and entirely sub-standard accommodation.

“We share common cause with good landlords and there are lots and lots of them, don’t get me wrong.”

But he added that around 25 per cent of all HMOs “have got some kind of problem”.

Landlords will have to submit proof that their properties meet the council’s room size requirements and are compliant with fire and gas safety rules.

The borough-wide licensing proposals follow on from a pilot scheme in Holloway and Caledonian Road. It currently costs landlords in those two areas a fee of £280 to register each bedroom in their HMO with the council.

Cllr Ward said: “In Finsbury Park we found that 60 per cent of HMOs were sub-standard, so that’s why we decided to license all privately rented properties there.”

Anthony Christodoulu of Parks Properties

There has been a spike in the number of people sleeping or begging under the bridge in Stroud Green Road, by Finsbury Park station, in recent months.

Cllr Ward said: “It all ties together where the biggest cause in homelessness is the end of an assured shorthold ten­ancy.”

Michael Deas, from campaign group London Renters Union, which aims to protect the rights of tenants, said the council would “need to listen to renters when they raise a complaint”, for the licensing scheme to be effective.

He said: “Licences should only be given once an inspection has been carried out and the council should be ready to withdraw a licence from a landlord if they appear to not carry out urgent repairs and unfairly raise the rent.”

But letting agent Anthony Christodoulu, the director of Parks Properties in Highbury, said he would be opposing the council’s plans and condemned it as “draconian”.

He said: “To me HMO licensing is a check on every single landlord, and most landlords are good and they shouldn’t be penalised.

“The council just want a record of every single landlord and the council are not trusting a democratic nation to run their portfolio.

“Landlords aren’t the evil ones that people say they are. A lot of rogue landlords have grown up in the last 10 years.”

He warned that landlords would be tempted to raise their rents to compensate for the HMO licensing registration fees.

He added: “All the council are doing is adding costs to landlords constantly, and they’re going to get annoyed.

“They are going to sell their properties to overseas investors who are the only people buying at the moment.

“Rents will keep going up and private tenants will be the ones suffering.”

A consultation survey on the proposals ends on November 3. To provide feedback go to www.islington.gov.uk/consultations/hmo-property-licensing-consultation

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