Housing

Sadiq Khan launches online tool to root out London's 'rogue landlords'

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he hopes the tool will 'to redress the imbalance of power that currently exists in the London private rented sector'.

London's City Hall is lit up in the evening with Tower Bridge in the background

Image credit: Raphaël Chekroun/Flickr

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched an online tool to support tenants across the capital, potentially invalidating “no-fault” eviction notices and leading to rent repayments of thousands of pounds.

The new Property Licence Checker will allow tenants to see whether their landlord has the correct licence for the property they are letting. Landlords must obtain a licence to rent out shared houses and flats, or types of converted accommodation, all of which are particularly common among students, young professionals, and people on lower incomes.

“With nearly a fifth of London’s private rented accommodation not meeting basic standards, it is vital that every privately rented property is licensed so landlords can be held to account for  the conditions their tenants live in,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, adding that the new tool will help “to redress the imbalance of power that currently exists in the London private rented sector.”

Landlords who rent properties without the correct licence could face a £30,000 fine from their local council and a Rent Repayment Order, meaning they have to give up to 12 months rent back to tenants affected.

And unlicensed properties are exempt from Section 21 eviction notices, sometimes called “no fault” evictions, in which the landlord does not need to give a reason to reclaim the property from tenants.

Section 21 evictions were banned by the Government during the worst of the pandemic, but since the ban was lifted at the end of September campaigners have warned more than 40,000 renters could face eviction over the winter.

“We estimate that as many as one in eight private renters in London lives in a property that is not properly licensed,” said Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director of tenants rights organisation Generation Rent. “That makes you more vulnerable to unsafe conditions and mistreatment. 

“The rewards for tenants taking unlicensed landlords to court are substantial, but local government must do more to inform tenants of their rights and encourage them to take action.”

The news comes the day after the Government released a new white paper on social housing, which promises to give tenants more ability to hold landlords to account over living standards and access to services.

Darren Rodwell, who leads housing and planning for the cross-party London Councils organisation, said: “This will be an extremely useful ‘check and challenge’ tool to empower tenants and support boroughs in our crackdown on rogue landlords.”

The new tool was developed in collaboration with the Mayor’s Private Rented Sector Partnership with London boroughs and follows the Mayor’s Rogue Landlord and Agent checker, released in 2017.

Khan called on the Government to give City Hall more power to approve new licensing schemes.

“This would help create more consistency in property licensing across London, creating a more transparent system for landlords and better protections for London’s private renters, who time and again are treated as an afterthought by ministers,” he said.

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