Bid to get private landlords using council letting agency

Islington Council has unveiled two measures which it claims will “help private renters” and “begin bringing down rents.”

The first is a proposal for landlord licensing in part of the borough where an estimated 3,500 private sector tenants live – near the Caledonian Road – which the authority claims is a hotspot for what it calls “poor management” by letting agents and landlords.

Earlier this year, council officers surveyed 208 HMOs in this part of the borough. Some 141 allegedly had problems linked to poor management including dirty communal areas, mice infestations, use of undersized rooms and other breaches of HMO regulations.

Poorly maintained fire alarm systems, dangerous staircases and neglected electrical systems were also found.

The council is now proposing to introduce licensing for all landlords of HMOs along Holloway Road and Caledonian Road. Landlords who fail to license risk prosecution and fines up to £20,000 and being required to repay up to 12 months’ rent for letting a property which should have been licensed but wasn’t.

Consultation on the proposal begin this week.

The council is also setting up a new social lettings agency to be run by the council from next spring. Although obviously dedicated to social housing it aims to appeal to private tenants who feel they are not getting value for money

The social lettings agency promises it will charge tenants “no fees, as well as guaranteeing standards.”

The agency will also offer private landlords guaranteed rents in exchange for them bringing down rents, so that they are affordable for tenants hit by housing benefit caps.

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