Lewisham could clamp down on landlords who flout overcrowding rules

By Maya Chavvakula
Housing chiefs are thinking of imposing extra charges on landlords because so many are breaching overcrowding rules.

Lewisham council is inviting residents’ views on licensing for House’ in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

The council argues that the new regulation will help improve the standard of living in the borough by keeping private landlords in check.

The legislation is strongly opposed by Residential Landlords Association (RLA). but residents who feel either way can still send in their views.

Samantha Watkin, policy officer for the RLA, said: “There is little evidence that licensing schemes improve housing standards.

“The proposed fee structure offers little explanation as to why the licence fee is based on council tax band for each single dwelling property.

“Determining the licence fee based on the value of the property should not form the basis of either a higher or lower fee.

“The RLA supports a system of self-regulation for landlords whereby compliant landlords join a co-regulation scheme which deals with standards and complaints in the first instance.

“Furthermore, the commitment to inspect 100% of properties that have received a licence would mean that the council would have to inspect 100 properties per week throughout the five-year life of the scheme.

“This pledge sets exceptionally unrealistic standards to maintain as part of the licensing scheme.”

The council on the other hand argues that this policy is necessary to combat the housing crisis in London.

Councillor Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “The private rented sector is a key part of housing provision and we want to work with landlords to ensure homes are of good quality and tenants have a good standard of living. 

“We want to license all private rented houses in an effort to make private renting in Lewisham better for everyone.”

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