Hackney Council to dish out on-the-spot fines of £30,000 to rogue private sector landlords
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Bad landlords will face on-the-spot fines of up to £30,000 and be forced to repay rent to tenants as part of a town hall crackdown on rogue practices.
Landlords and letting agents who fail to comply with orders to sort out their property, let out overcrowded homes or fail to meet licensing conditions will be hit where it hurts under the Better Renting campaign.
The orders allow the town hall to take immediate action to help tenants as an alternative to lengthy court proceedings, though the worst offenders will still be prosecuted.
Better Renting aims to improve standards for private sector renters and cut out rogue landlords and extortionate letting fees and charges.
Since launching in July, the first voluntary letting fee ban scheme in the country has been introduced and drop-in sessions have been held.
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Cllr Sem Moema, mayoral advisor for private renting and housing affordability, said: “Renters who pay an average of nearly £2,000 a month for two-bedroom flat in Hackney deserve homes that are safe, secure and well-maintained by their landlord.
“While we’ll still prosecute the most serious offenders, these new fines will give us the powers we need to quickly punish the minority of rogue landlords out to exploit tenants where it hurts – in their pocket.
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“Whether it’s bolstering our enforcement powers, campaigning for more action from the Government or simply giving advice, we’re determined to get renters in Hackney a better deal.”
Two in three private renters in Hackney say their repairs aren’t done when needed, while rent levels have rocketed 20 per cent over the last five years. One third of all households – 34,000 homes – are privately rented in the borough.
Research commissioned as part of the campaign found one in five houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) has serious hazards or are in disrepair, 10pc higher than in other privately rented properties.
And yesterday the Gazette reported less than 3pc of private rental properties in Hackney are affordable to those reliant on housing benefit – compared with 50pc six years ago.
A consultation is also taking place over proposals for a borough-wide additional licensing scheme. It would mean all HMOs – not just the 16pc covered under the current mandatory licensing scheme – would need to be licensed. On top of that, all privately-rented homes in the three wards most impacted by poor conditions; Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington, would need to be licensed.
To respond to the consultation, which closes in early December, visit consultation.hackney.gov.uk.