The first scheme is a borough-wide scheme licensing houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), requiring landlords who rent out a property occupied by three or more tenants who are not members of the same family (as well as certain converted blocks of flats) to get a licence. The council has found that HMOs have some of Islington’s poorest housing standards, with many HMO conversions having inadequate fire safety measures. A pilot HMO licensing scheme in Caledonian and Holloway Roads has been in place since 2015, and 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. Many people in the area are also facing higher levels of deprivation, meaning that they are at greater risk of being taken advantage of by rogue landlords. For these reasons, the Finsbury Park scheme will also require landlords to obtain a license when they rent out a flat or house occupied by either a single household, or two persons sharing.
The two licensing schemes will allow the council 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.
At the same time, the licensing schemes benefit responsible landlords by levelling the playing field, ensuring rogue landlords who avoid maintenance are not saving money by renting properties in poor conditions. Accredited landlords will also be offered a discounted application fee.
The two licensing schemes were agreed at a meeting of the council's Executive Committee last night, Thursday 19th of March.
Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, said:
“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. 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.
“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.”
Notes to Editors
- The new licensing schemes were subject to extensive consultation. Results and further information about the schemes is available on the council's website.
- There are an estimated estimated 66,300 households in the private rented sector in Islington.
- Since 2014, Islington Council's dedicated reporting line for private renters has helped improve over 1,800 private rented homes, and over 2,800 people have been offered advice with problems.