Thousands of tenants across South London are living in dangerous accommodation managed by hundreds of rogue landlords
A Freedom of Information request sent to London’s 32 boroughs has revealed that within the past year Southwark council housing inspectors reported the highest number of hazards in more than 400 different properties.
More than 600 life-threatening hazards, such as carbon monoxide leaks, mouldy and damp conditions or animal infestations were found in 424 properties across the borough, where a quarter of the housing market is in the private rental sector.
Lambeth and Greenwich each reported more than 230 category one hazards, whilst Lewisham reported 112, Bexley 78 and 54 in Wandsworth. South London boroughs were also among the worst for prosecuting rogue landlords, with many failing to prosecute any during the past year.
Wandsworth, Lewisham, Lambeth or Bexley failed to prosecute any landlords during 2016-2017, while Southwark and Greenwich prosecuted just two landlords each.
When asked why the number of prosecutions in Southwark was so low despite housing inspectors recording hundreds of life threatening hazards, a spokesperson for Southwark council said the council favours working with landlords, asking them to make improvements to the property rather than going straight for prosecution.
“Most landlords are responsible people, but without question an element are not. Firm action must be taken to tackle them”
Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Southwark’s cabinet member for communities, safety and leisure, said: “Having fewer prosecutions isn’t always a negative thing – it can mean that more successful interventions have happened before it gets to prosecution stage.”
Caroline Pidgeon, a member of London Assembly who was involved in the research, said: “Last year the housing charity Shelter revealed that one in 20 renters believe they have recently rented from a rogue landlord, and 60 per cent of renters had experienced either damp, mould, leaking roofs or windows, electrical hazards, animal infestation or gas leaks.
“Of course most landlords are responsible people, but without question an element are not. Firm action must be taken to tackle them.
“Basic standards must be upheld for the two million people in
London who now live in private rented accommodation.
“Within London’s private rented sector there is now a need for a proper and robust framework of regulation across the entire city.
“The data clearly demonstrates that only a rigorous regime of licensing will result in the enforcement needed to put an end to the problem of rogue landlords that exist across every part of London.”