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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Until 5 September (extended from 8 August) the Council is running an online consultation on introduction of a residential property licensing scheme across most of the borough (see www.haringey.gov.uk/propertylicensingconsultation).

Even if you have no direct interest in private rented accommodation, it might be worth a look for the links to documents giving much wider background and social information about the borough - housing, deprivation, ethnic mix, etc. 

My reading of the paperwork also throws up two main reservations. The proposals seem to argue that there's a direct link between private rental and anti-social behaviour (ASB), without considering any social, health, employment, poverty or other factors that play into it, or making any comparison with ASB in other rented properties, such as local authority or housing association buildings; while the scheme outline is heavy on application fees and conditions it's extraordinarily light on inspection, enforcement or monitoring to ensure compliance over the proposed five-year licence period, or even explaining how initial applications will be assessed.

The principle of licensing seems not-unreasonable, but if it's to be effective it has to have teeth, otherwise bad landlords (the ones we all complain about renting sub-standard or dangerous properties, dumping mattresses and rubbish in the street or failing to tackle disruptive tenants) will just ignore it and continue as at present. I doubt the Council has the resources to inspect every private rented property in the borough once, let alone regularly to ensure compliance, so I'm sceptical as to whether the idea is even feasible.

As it happens, I found out about the consultation because I received a council letter saying "we believe you are a tenant living in private rented accommodation". I'm not and never have been, so this doesn't inspire great confidence in Haringey's ability to even identify the properties they're concerned about in the first place.

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I received the same letter. I'm also not a tenant. So far as I'm aware this property hasn't been let for decades.

Yes they are sending those letters to everybody. I am a landlord and a tenant, unusually.

It would require a little effort to determine which properties are being rented out, through the land registry - comparing Council Tax payers with property owners (though if the rented property is empty between tenants it would be back in the landlord's name.) From my experience with the recently introduced new selective licensing in Haringey (yes another one) they have no idea which properties should be licensed and don't approach them directly though a letter through the door is unlikely to be passed to the landlord anyway.

Landlords have to have their ear to the ground or else they could be done for non compliance when they hadn't been asked directly to license in the first place.

Of course the bad landlords won't comply anyway and it will be the law abiding landlords who have to go through the complex and expensive task of the license process.

Many of the properties in the worst condition are local authority and housing association ones, as cited above, and who is monitoring those? They get away with non compliance on many levels.

It is just a means for Haringey to get more money and in fact do very little to improve the lives of tenants or neighbours of disruptive or anti-social tenants. 

Helen — I’ve just caught up with the HoL thread from 2018 when the previous consultation on this took place, and it doesn’t look as though any of the questions you and others raised then have been answered in this latest exercise. There’s also a question about the cost of licences in years 2 - 5 for new landlords (as the scheme is apparently time-limited); do they pay full whack even if their licence only has, say, two years’ validity? Incidentally, I wasn’t making any judgement on behaviour or conditions in local authority or housing association properties, only commenting that Haringey’s background paper appears to suggest a correlation between poor behaviour and private rental without any apparent evidence or comparison with other forms of tenancy.

Hi Don. That consultation from 2018 has gone through and is now mandatory. This is a new one. The 2018 one made converted properties in certain parts of Haringey into a type of HMO even if just the stairs are communal. The new one will enlarge on this and again cover certain areas of the borough (deemed 'dodgy') As the other scheme just came into force last year I am not sure why they are starting on a new one so soon, without assessing the impact of that one first. It's just to make money I guess. A landlord friend has a property in one of the areas covered by the new scheme and was not notified that she needed a license. The Council caught up with her when the police were called as her tenant got drunk one night. Once there has been any kind of civil disturbance the Council are notified and start enforcement. Her flats are of a high standard and there is just a communal staircase which deems her to need licensing. She already complies completely with all fire regulations etc. 
I haven't yet examined the new licensing proposals and I don't know if it covers the same wards as the previous one, or is expanding it. 

Well, I’ve written to the Council to ask lots of questions about notification, enforcement, inspection, assessment of “fit and proper”, etc, so will see what emerges and add it here if useful.

Thank you Don. 

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