Government gives approval for large-scale licensing scheme of private rented properties in Waltham Forest

22 January 2020

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Home sweet home sign in Waltham Forest
  • In the council’s bid to ensure that properties are effectively managed and maintained, most privately rented properties in the borough must apply for a Selective Licence from Friday 1 May 2020.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has given approval for Waltham Forest’s new selective licensing scheme, which will cover 18 out of 20 wards (excluding Hatch Lane and Endlebury) and will commence on Friday 1 May 2020.

With more than a third of residents in Waltham Forest renting privately, and evidence that over 8,000 rented homes contain significant hazards, licensing will enable the council to intervene effectively to help raise housing standards, reduce anti-social-behaviour, and allow the council to deal effectively with non-compliant landlords who exploit vulnerable tenants by letting out overcrowded, unsuitable, and dangerous properties.

Cllr Louise Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness Prevention, said: “Our selective licensing scheme is an important tool for us as we work to ensure all private rental tenants in Waltham Forest have a decent roof over their head. I’m very pleased that the MHCLG have approved our proposal to operate the scheme in 18 out of our 20 wards over the next five years.

“We know that the majority of landlords are reputable and take good care of their properties and tenants. However, there are a minority who are happy to take advantage of those in need of a home and exploit them to line their own pockets. 

“Our message to these rogue landlords is clear: If you want to rent property out in Waltham Forest, your property must meet the licensing scheme’s standards and you must ensure that your tenants are safe. If you do not, we will find out and take action against you. Tenants deserve to live safety, with security, and in comfort.”

The selective licensing scheme ensures landlords meet a set of licence conditions such as making sure fire safety precautions are in place, ensuring properties are not dangerous and that they are properly managed. It will also help the council deal with anti-social behaviour (ASB), as the licence makes landlords responsible for dealing with ASB at the earliest opportunity.

The council recognises that there are many good landlords operating in the borough and is offering an ‘early-bird’ discount to those responsible landlords who register between Friday 1 May and Friday 31 July 2020. It will continue to run landlord forums, providing guidance on how to make necessary rental property improvements, comply with any new legislation and become more professional in their approach to renting out properties – enabling landlords to provide a high-quality service to local residents.

Waltham Forest Property Licensing Schemes

Selective licensing, A borough-wide selective licensing scheme was first launched in Waltham Forest in April 2015 and will end on Tuesday 31 March 2020. With General Approval issued by Secretary of State on Tuesday 21 January 2020, a new selective licensing scheme will start on Friday 1 May 2020 and will be mandatory in 18 out 20 of the borough’s wards. The new scheme will run for a period of five years and will end Wednesday 30 April 2025.

The scheme requires landlords to apply for a licence if they rent any house or self-contained flat which is let or occupied to a single household or no more than two unrelated persons and is in one of the 18 wards in the designation. This excludes Hatch Lane and Endlebury wards.

Since selective licensing was first introduced in the borough in April 2015 over 27,000 property licences have been issued and the council has:

  • issued more than 149 Civil Penalties;
  • issued more than 50 interim management orders;
  • improved 3,100 privately rented properties;
  • pursued 94 successful prosecutions, resulting in more than £323,000 in court-imposed fines.

Additional licensing, approved by Waltham Forest Cabinet on Thursday 11 July 2019, will launch on Wednesday 1 April 2020 and will target Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that are privately rented but which do not come within the scope of mandatory HMO licensing and where households share one or more basic amenity such as a bath or WC.

Mandatory HMO licensing is a national scheme which has been in place since 2006 and which local councils must carry out. This scheme applies to most larger shared rental properties (HMOs) occupied by five or more people and forming more than one household (for example, a group of renters sharing).