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Extra landlord licensing to tackle poor standards

Islington Council has approved a new licensing regime to protect around 3,500 private tenants in shared homes on Holloway Road and Caledonian Road – in an effort to tackle the high rates of poor property management along those two streets.

Last night (Thursday) Islington Council's Executive approved an additional licensing scheme for properties shared by several households, known as HMOs, along the two roads.

The move comes after council officers surveyed HMOs in both roads last year following concerns about low standards of property management.

They found problems in more than two thirds of the HMOs surveyed - 141 out of 208 - including fire alarms not working, neglected electrical systems, and badly maintained communal areas including damaged flooring and staircases.

Other problems included mice infestations, gas safety certificates not being issued to tenants and undersized box rooms being let.

The new licensing scheme will enable the council to ensure that these HMOs are properly managed, in a reasonable condition, and meet minimum standards including those related to space and safety.

Landlords who fail to license risk prosecution and fines up to £20,000, and could be required to repay up to 12 months' rent for letting a property which should have been licensed but wasn't.

Now that the area has been designated as subject to additional licensing, HMO landlords will be required to apply to the council for a licence, with the scheme coming into effect on September 1st.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's executive member for housing and development, said: "More and more people in Islington are renting privately, and we want to help make sure they have decent homes to live in.

"We’ve been very concerned about poor management in Holloway Road and Caledonian Road, and our investigation of shared properties along those two streets found widespread problems ranging from faulty fire alarms to tiny 'shoebox' rooms being rented out.

"On the back of the evidence we found, we’re now introducing this licensing scheme to make sure landlords are providing tenants with decent homes."

Other council initiatives to help private renters include a one-shop phone number - 020 7527 3001 - for all issues, inquiries and concerns relating to private rental.

The council is also preparing to launch a social lettings agency to help people on lower and middle incomes access the private rented sector.