There are now 10 councils with licensing schemes covering more than 20 per cent of the rental market according to activists’ group Generation Rent.
The group says these are Burnley, Peterborough, Hyndburn, Newham, Blackpool, Brent, Nottingham, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and Barking and Dagenham.
Generation Rent claims that in addition to “only” 10 councils having such extensive licensing, only 55 councils in total have licensing schemes that cover more properties than the legal minimum.
The group does not explain why it believes councils should extend licensing beyond the legal requirements but it is sharply critical of local authorities in general and their approach to the private rental sector.
For example it accuses councils of failing to protect tenants in three out of four cases where they discover rental homes are unsafe.
It is calling on councils to commit to serving improvement notices every time they find a dangerous private rented home which - according to the campaign - “will help to drive out criminal landlords and raise quality of homes for local renters.”
Local authorities in England are responsible for enforcing safety standards in private rental properties; if a Category 1 hazard is found on an inspection, the council can serve an improvement notice, obliging the owner to make repairs.
Generation Rent says: “This prevents the landlord from serving the tenant with a retaliatory no-fault eviction for six months. If the landlord fails to act on an improvement notice, the council can fine or prosecute them, and the tenant can apply for a Rent Repayment Order.”
The campaign adds that, based on its enquiries, 2,814 improvement notices were served in 2019-20, representing 24.3 per cent of hazards found.
It also admits this is an improvement on the 20.5 per cent of 2017-18 but slightly down on the 24.6 per cent of 2018-19.
Generation Rent also criticises councils for a string of other issues.
It suggests private renters have little confidence in their council taking appropriate action. In a poll of 1,008 private renters conducted by Survation in February, 35 per cent said they would contact the council if their landlord failed to fix something - but 44 per cent said they would look for somewhere else to live.
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