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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Council introduces fresh strategy to improve conditions for private tenants

A new strategy has been launched today by Westminster City Council to help raise standards for tenants who rent privately. 

Westminster, which has the largest number of private rented sector (PRS) properties in England with around 52,700 properties rented privately, is determined to ensure renters live in good quality and well managed properties.

Privately rented properties make up 43% of all of Westminster’s housing stock and the number has grown significantly in the past decade.

Recent analysis of the sector carried out by the council found that 13% of PRS properties in Westminster, equivalent to almost 6,800 homes, have at least one serious hazard which could endanger tenants such as faulty electrical wiring, severe damp or mould, excessive cold or fire safety breaches. 

According to the analysis, almost half of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are likely to have serious hazards.

The council already receives about 1,600 complaints a year about poor housing conditions in the private sector and the impact of poor-quality housing on residents’ safety, health and wellbeing is significant.

To ensure every private rented home in Westminster is of good quality, the new Private Rented Sector strategy aims to:

  • Improve conditions in the PRS including consulting on a discretionary licencing scheme for all houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), which are more likely to be in poor condition. The council also aims to review its Enforcement Policy and work with the sector to increase the number of landlords and letting agents signing up to the London Landlords Accreditation Scheme (LLAS).

  • Provide support for tenants, landlords and letting agents e.g. ensuring that all parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities, assisting tenants taking legal action against rogue landlords, setting up a dedicated forum for anyone letting a property privately and investigating energy efficiency grants for landlords housing vulnerable people.

  • Set up a private rented sector forum that brings together all landlords and letting agents so knowledge and best practice can be shared.

Westminster also wants to see the government introduce a national register of landlords and letting agencies and is also pushing for the existing ‘rogue landlord database ‘to be extended, and for tenants’ rights to be simply explained as part of their licence or agreement.

Cllr Heather Acton, Westminster City Council cabinet member for public protection and licensing, commented: “The safety and protection of our communities will always be our primary concern. Most privately rented properties are high quality with landlords that play by the rules, but we know that a minority let properties that do not meet the required safety standards, and put residents’ lives, health and wellbeing at risk.

“We want tenants, landlords and letting agents to be aware of their rights and responsibilities so we can raise standards in the sector as high as possible. 

“Our new policy sets measures designed to ensure Westminster’s private rented sector is well managed, operating within the law and above all else, safe for the people living here.”

The council already operates a Housing Standards Taskforce which comprises officers with enforcement skills in environmental health, trading standards, and analysts to provide intelligence necessary to take cases forward. 

The team was set up to protect vulnerable residents by investigating landlords and letting agents who flout the rules or provide tenants with sub-standard homes. 

The taskforce has already resulted in around £80,000 in civil penalty fines and £200,000 in fines for landlords who let HMO properties without a legal licence.  

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    Are councils going to police themselves then ? some of the worst conditions in Norfolk can be found in social housing .

  • girish mehta

    Councils should look at their housing stock and improve them rather than waste time and resources Ron minority and then charge honest landlords in money grabbing exercise

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    Next time you get the opportunity to vote, use it more wisely ?

     
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    Yet it has to be admitted that some - probably a large number of - tenanted flats are substandard in terms of conditions that endanger the health and safety of tenants. And these tenants may be afraid of complaining in case they are then given notice to quit. This may apply to council social housing too. Maybe Andrew and Girish (above comments) could suggest something positive to address this. At the moment no-one independent is going into these flats to check conditions. (Not even to check gas safety certificates, never mind anything else. )

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    Am I right in thinking that any attempt at eviction is nullified if an unresolved 'substandard' complaint previously rests with the Council ?

     
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    That an easy one David Wirth the tenant can LEAVE & find another property. Plenty around isnt there!
    When mortgage companies make the same requirements from their borrowers/owner occupiers then we can treat this seriously. How does having an electrical cert on a rental property be of more importance than an owner occupier having one. Same goes for gas cert. What makes a house owners property safer than a rental property?

     
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    Jahan, it's called 'H & S at work', not 'H & S at home'... and if you are a landlord, you are running a business/work ?

     
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    Seb aka The Artificial Intelligence bot. Update your Win 95 embedded software & re read my post to get a proper perspective

     
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    Jahan, why do you want to make it personal - attack the argument, not the person ?.. ad hominem ??

    You said, "What makes a house owners property safer than a rental property?" ???.. well, the law does !.. and if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen ?

     
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    Seb It cant be personal you don't exist.

     
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    Jahan, why are you resorting to name-calling, it's what children do ?

     
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    Well when I get to 18 i'll probably stop

     
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    That's just it David, social housing providers are a law upon themselves, a case of do as I say not as I do.

     
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    I wonder if Cllr Heather Acton is feeling ok, she wants to see private housing better managed, strange that isn't it you have taken away all LL rights preventing him from managing or have any control over his property now you want to Fine him for not doing what's he is not allowed to do. It's about time the Government told Councils to run a Council how it should be run to promote & support Business not drive it into the ground, these days they only know penalties, penalties, penalties and nothing else, that goes for the Mayors office too.

  • Paul Barrett

    @seb forbes

    Putting all jollity aside I believe your point is well made.

    It would not be too much a stretch of the imagination to have diversity imposed on private LL.
    Councils could readily adjust licencing arrangements to make such circumstances so.

    So I don't believe LL could be confident enough to say it would never happen.

    After all LL human rights have been trampled on by all and sundry with no ill effects for the rest of society so a bit more trampling won't make much difference.

    LL will seemingly still suffer these things to stay in the game.

    The world really gets a little weirder every day!

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    They want us out for sure they need our tenants to buy some of the thousands of over priced unwanted Flats to put them in trouble for the rest of their lives, after the first rung the next one is broken. Seb' says why make civil matters criminal which is right but he'll know already that's exactly what they have done to LL's in recent years, everything that used to be a Civil Matter for private renting was changed to Criminal Matter, just to criminalize LL's & give him a criminal record.
    I was just looking at my Notice Board in my vacant house today it a picture, HM0 Licence,Domestic Electrical Installation report, Cert'Fire detection / installation, commissioning, Emergency Lighting Periodic / Inspection test Cert', Energy Performance Certificate rating "c", Gas Certificate, my name & number, How t Rent, Right to Rent, ICO cert, LL accreditation Cert, LL electric competence Cert, and the house standing idle no wonder the Agent didn't want to touch it yesterday he said too many legal difficulties. Then if I can source some Tenants I have the cost & time to do all the checks about them or get an Agent to do it, (last time £395+vat = £474). Then I'll have the Tenancy Agreement as long as you arm, we'll forget all about the inventory & Deposit all too much, so they do want us out. The Benefit LL has a fraction of this, so we are all equal before the Law ?. I have an English Friend who has an Irish Black Dog.

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