Tower Hamlets Council in London is warning rogue landlords to get their house in order after recovering £100,000 in rent from them over the past year.
The London borough used rent repayment orders to claim back tenants’ cash from landlords who were caught with unlicensed properties.
It runs two borough-wide property licensing schemes – a mandatory scheme for HMOs with five renters or more and an additional scheme covering flats or houses with three or more renters – along with a selective scheme covering all rented properties within the Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown areas.
Councillor Sirajul Islam, deputy mayor and cabinet member for housing, says that while most of its landlords play by the rules, some put profit ahead of the people who live in their properties.
“We want to work with landlords to ensure that the licensing process is safe, regulated and improves the lives of managing agents and tenants,” he adds. “Given the penalties that can be incurred by falling foul of our regulations, it really isn’t worth the risk of letting an unlicensed property.”
Rent payment orders can claim up to 12 months’ rent back for tenants from landlords who have committed an offence, although they don’t need to have been convicted.
The National Residential Landlords Association has questioned how workable or effective rent repayment orders are but expects there to have been an uptake in their use across the country since the changes made in October 2018.
Deputy policy director John Stewart says: “It’s vital however that funds raised are properly used to root out those criminal landlords wilfully ignoring their legal obligations, whilst much greater support is provide to the vast majority of landlords who are doing the right thing and providing safe and secure housing.”