New legal powers are set to help Merton council take enforcement action against private sector landlords who are letting out unsuitable or dangerous properties.
At a meeting on Monday 3 June, the council’s Cabinet agreed to look into developing a selective licencing scheme for landlords in areas where there are high numbers of privately rented homes and increased anti-social behaviour or crime and also agreed to the introduction of a civil penalties policy.
The council has the powers to prosecute landlords or impose a fine for breaches of the Housing Act 2004. A rent repayment order can also be made by a tribunal to a landlord for a specific amount of money. Landlords who have been convicted of an offence can also be legally banned from renting properties and added to a national rogue landlords database.
Around a quarter of housing in Merton is privately rented and in some parts of the borough more than a third of homes are rented by private landlords.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton said: “As a council, we want to ensure that all properties across Merton which are rented out by private landlords are well maintained, habitable and safe for tenants to live in.
“We are using powers available to us to clamp down on rogue landlords and use enforcement powers on those who are not meeting their legal obligations to their tenants. As a council we are also undertaking further work on a selective licensing scheme which would require all private-rented housing in designated areas to be licensed which would be used to drive up the standards in the private-rented sector.”
Notes to editors
The proposed selective licencing scheme is in addition to the mandatory houses in multiple occupation licencing scheme, which came into effect in October 2018 and applies to five or more people living as two or more separate households in a single property. Consultation on the proposed new selective licencing scheme is planned for the autumn and the scheme could start in summer 2020.