Hackney landlords say they’ve been given no information about looming licensing scheme

Vishal Vora.

Vishal Vora. - Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Private landlords in Hackney say they have been told next to nothing about a pilot scheme under which they are set to be charged £500 to licence their properties – or face huge penalties.

Next month the council is launching a “selected landlord licence” in three of the borough’s wards – Stoke Newington, Cazenove and Brownswood.

Those areas were chosen because the council reckons 15 per cent of the 4,700 privately rented homes there have serious problems such as damp, mould, dangerous boilers, exposed wiring and vermin infestations.

Anyone renting out their homes will have to get them into shape and pay a £500 fee to cover the five-year licence – but many landlords say they still don’t know what measures need to be taken before it comes in.

Vishal Vora, began renting out his Stoke Newington home privately after moving to Berlin with his family.

He told the Gazette: “I found out about it by chance really, from an old neighbour.

“Her agency contacted her saying it was coming in but that even they didn’t have any information. The website still isn’t live.

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“It seems there was a public consultation while I was living there, but I didn’t hear about it. And the outcome was overwhelmingly negative about the plans, but the council still proceeded.”

Vishal said the consensus among his landlord friends was that the penalties were really heavy.

Any who don’t get the licence or fall short of the required standards will face a penalty, prosecution leading to a fine or be forced to pay back a year’s rent.

He said: “I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m a model landlord but my tenants are happy and anything they need, I do.

“There are rogue landlords and there needs to be a mechanism to catch them, but to us it just feels they are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“A lot of landlords are worried.”

Hackney Council said the website and application process was due to go live at the end of September and both landlords and letting agents will be contacted.

A spokesperson also said there would be a “reasonable” grace period for landlords to get licensed before action begins.