Bad landlords could be hit with on-the-spot fines of up to £30,000 or forced to repay rent under new measures announced by Hackney Council today.
The raft of penalties, rubberstamped by the Cabinet last night, are aimed at landlords or agents who ignore council instructions to make improvements, let overcrowded properties or fail to meet licensing conditions.
The worst offenders will still face criminal prosecution, the council says.
The new measures have been announced as part of the Town Hall’s Better Renting campaign, which launched in July and includes the first voluntary letting fees ban.
Mayoral Advisor for Private Renting, Cllr Sem Moema, said: “Renters who pay an average of nearly £2,000 a month for two-bedroom flat in Hackney deserve homes that are safe, secure and well-maintained by their landlord.
“While we’ll still prosecute the most serious offenders, these new fines will give us the powers we need to quickly punish the minority of rogue landlords out to exploit tenants where it hurts – in their pocket.
“Whether it’s bolstering our enforcement powers, campaigning for more action from the Government or simply giving advice, we’re determined to get renters in Hackney a better deal.”
Two in three private renters in Hackney told the council their repairs are not done when needed, while rent levels have rocketed 20 per cent over the last five years.
Around 34,000 homes in the borough are privately rented – about a third of all households.
Independent research commissioned for the Better Renting campaign revealed that more than one in five Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are in disrepair, or contain serious hazards – over 10 per cent higher than other privately rented properties.
The Town Hall is currently consulting on the introduction of landlord licensing schemes in the borough, including one specifically for HMOs.
To have your say on the licensing proposals before the consultation closes in early December, please visit the council’s website here.