One of the many positive action suggestions made at Saturday’s Croydon Assembly meeting organised by Croydon TUC was that a Tenants Union should be set up to enable private tenants to collectively campaign and defend each other against rogue landlords.
A good opportunity to start organising comes over the next few weeks with the start of consultation by Croydon Council on its proposed private landlords licensing scheme begins tomorrow 17 November and running until 12 December. See:
People can take part by visiting www.croydon.gov.uk/betterplacetorent.
A forum event will be held at the Conference Centre
in Surrey Street, Croydon, from 6pm to 7.30pm
on Thursday, 27 November. People must register
if they wish to attend, as numbers are limited.
or call MEL research on 0121 604 4664.
The Council has already consulted landlords who have been campaigning against it. The latest pro-landlord offering is on Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com/economics-business/private-rented-housing-landlords-view.
Previous Tory Consultation
The Council Tories (and Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell) have come outside against the scheme, despite the fact it was they who set the wheels in motion for extending the xisting selective licensing scheme. Their consultation document ‘Changes to additional licensing scheme’ (9 January 2014) and the accompanying undated ‘Report Recommending Additional Licensing in The London Borough of Croydon’ are still on the Council website at http://www.croydon.gov.uk/housing/privatehousing/hmo/pshals.
That report highlights the that the existing mandatory licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation ‘has worked so well that rogue landlords have shifted their focus’ to non-licensable HMO’s which are usually two storey houses but sometimes are individual self-contained flats.’ It justifies having a scheme across the whole Borough to prevent rogue landlords and agents moving from a selective to a non licensing area.
Labour’s consultation document is a considerable improvement as the Tory one did not even mention what the licence fee might be.
Labour’s proposed selective licensing scheme is a key part of the “Don’t Mess with Croydon” campaign to clean up the Borough by improving conditions in private rented accommodation.
It means every private landlord will be required to obtain a licence, whereby they will have to demonstrate they have met a series of health and safety standards.
The scheme will also require stringent “fit and proper” checks of landlords for any criminal convictions.
Those renting out a property without a licence face fines of up to £20,000, while those who fail to comply with licence conditions can be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.
Private renting has increased significantly in Croydon with one of the negative consequences being poor quality homes, noise, litter, fly-tipping and antisocial behaviour.
The scheme aims to tackle these problems by bringing in tougher controls of private landlords.
In the last four years the number of complaints received by the Council concerning private rented housing standards has more than doubled from 630 in 2010/11 to 1,371 in 2013/14.
The Council is also aware that many tenants do not make complaints about their accommodation for fear of losing their homes.
Whatever final proposals emerge they will have to have Government approval.