Yes, we all know Waltham Forest introduced a selective licensing scheme last year and under their early bird scheme it cost £250 for a 5 year licence, rising to £500 thereafter – only this is no longer the case because as from 1st April 2016 the cost of a 5 year selective licence has increased to £650 so by the time 2020 comes, and on the basis the council extend the scheme beyond the initial 5 year period, how much will a licence then cost?
Many landlords saw the introduction of this licensing scheme as a money making decision, whilst others wanted to see rogue landlords punished, feeling it unfair they tow the line whilst the few bad apples continued to give landlords a bad name, and as such welcomed the scheme.
We know that enforcement officers are spreading across the borough carrying out their checks with the main target are those who have failed to obtain a licence altogether; however, those who have not complied with the licensing conditions, especially in relation to matters of property/tenant safety, should get their ducks in row asap.
Here are a few stories we came across during one of our regular licensing research exercises. If you have any questions about licensing, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
First fine for Waltham Forest licensing
The first landlord has been prosecuted by Waltham Forest council for failing to obtain one of its ‘Private Rented Property Licences’.
The Private Rented Property Licencing scheme was introduced by Waltham Forest council last April.
The mandatory scheme covers all privately rented homes in the borough.
Landlord, Coral Dawkins pleaded guilty to the charge of not having the required licence for a rental property in Leyton, despite the council sending her a number of warning letters.
Thames Magistrates Court handed Dawkins £800 fine, costs of £637.31 and a victim surcharge of £80.
Waltham Forest landlord fined £20,000 for failing to license his properties
William Lao, 48, of Webster Road, Leyton, has been prosecuted by Waltham Forest Council after failing to license his rented properties under their selective licensing scheme.
On Friday 5 February, Mr Lao, a commercial landlord who owns 16 properties in the borough, pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to licence his rented homes. He was fined a total of £20,000 by Thames Magistrates Court and ordered to pay the Council’s prosecution costs of over £2,000.
The offences related to a failure to licence two properties located in Frith Road and Grove Green Road in Leyton. Both houses were let out as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to a number of different families.
Councillor Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“This is not the first time Mr Lao has fallen foul of the law and we have had to put matters before the courts in order to hold him to account for his actions.
“Almost exactly a year ago he was hit with court fines and costs of over £300,000 after he made extensions and alterations to various properties without being granted planning permission.
“On that occasion in addition to the financial penalty, all of the works carried out to his properties had to be demolished and the properties returned to their original condition.
“It goes to show that rogue landlords simply can’t get away with it – not in this borough where we have a landlord licensing system in place, not just for HMOs, but for all private rented property.”
Since prosecution proceedings were instigated against Mr Lao by the Council, he has applied for the necessary licences. This licensing process will allow the Council to ensure that the addresses meet the necessary safety standards and are not overcrowded.
However, because Mr Lao has previous convictions for planning and housing breaches, he will not be able to have direct control over the management and letting of his rented properties under licensing provisions.
Waltham Forest rogue landlords fined £60,000 after property licensing crackdown
A dozen Waltham Forest landlords have been prosecuted and fined a total of £60,000 after failing to sign up to the borough’s rental property licensing scheme.
Court action has been taken against rogue landlords after a crackdown by Waltham Forest council, in which over 7,500 properties have been visited by officers this year.
This has led to 12 prosecutions of landlords who have failed to obtain a licence, with some ordered to pay fines of more than £10,000.
Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, said: “Landlords have now had ample time to apply for their licence, so there is simply no excuse to not have one in place by now.
“Any landlord who thinks they can avoid it needs to think again, as they could soon receive a visit from us and end up in court.
“We are determined to ensure that every privately rented property in the borough obtains a licence.”
The council launched its Private Rented Property Licencing scheme (PRPL) in March 2015, in an attempt to improve housing standards and reduce anti-social behaviour.
The scheme requires all landlords operating in the borough to have a separate licence for each property they rent out in the private sector.
Once in possession of a licence landlords must comply with certain conditions otherwise they could be prosecuted and fined.
Council inspections of rented properties have uncovered several cases of tenants living in poor conditions.
During one visit, officers found a property that was supposedly owner occupied, but in reality was being rented by 11 people in cramped conditions.