A local authority has decided against bringing in a new landlord licensing scheme.
The consultancy London Property Licensing says that Wandsworth Council has instead decided on more effective ways to monitor and improve the sector.
The issue was considered by Wandsworth Council’s Housing and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
In a report, the committee noted that the private rented sector accounts for about a third of the housing stock, while the number of complaints about poor quality accommodation has reduced in recent years.
The report noted that most complaints are resolved through negotiation and the level of tenant satisfaction is very high, at 85%. It also noted a rise in the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation, estimated to be around 15,000 properties.
Fewer than 500 of these properties are currently licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme, as most properties fall outside the criteria.
Having considered additional and selective licensing, the report concluded that there was no evidence available to justify the introduction of either scheme and so no licensing consultation will be carried out.
Instead the council has come up with an action plan including:
- Improving information and advice on the council’s website.
- Reviewing processes for serving legal notices.
- Improving training and development for staff on new legislation.
- Refocusing resources on higher priority complaints and investigations.
- Setting up a new landlord / letting agent forum and update newsletters.
- Allocating a higher priority to housing enforcement in the wards with the highest volume of complaints.
David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlord Association and EYE’s legal guru, said: “It is really good to see a council considering a range of options around landlord regulation rather than defaulting to licensing.
“The Housing Act 2004 offers a range of flexible powers to councils and this range will shortly be widened with changes in the Housing and Planning Act.
“Authorities should take a risk-based approach and focus their powers on directly addressing the real problems in the Private Rented Sector. It is good to see that Wandsworth has done this.”