A London borough could become the first local authority in the country where every single private landlord and rental property is licensed.
The council – which recently said it was considering buying up swathes of private rental property and becoming a landlord itself – has launched a consultation on compulsory borough-wide licensing.
The Government has made it clear that, whilst it does not back the idea of mandatory regulation of private landlords and agents, it is happy for local councils to use to the full the licensing powers that they have.
Inviting views, the council says: “Newham has a thriving private rented sector that provides affordable housing options for local people; but the Council is concerned about possible overcrowding and anti-social behaviour in some properties.
“Therefore, the Council is thinking of licensing private landlords and properties in the borough – in order to ensure that landlords, managing agents, tenants and owners operate legally and professionally.”
The consultation runs until December 4.
Newham estimates around one third of households in the borough are in the private rented sector, numbering around 35,000 homes. It has already piloted a smaller scale licensing scheme for over a year.
Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, said: “We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard. We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing.
“There are good landlords in Newham and we want to work with them. Unfortunately there are also some unscrupulous ones – which these proposals would target.”
Housing charity Shelter welcomed the Newham move. Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns, said: “We urge other local councils to follow Newham’s lead in sending a clear signal that enforcing the law against rogue landlords is a priority.”