Camden's landlord licensing scheme renewed

Camden Council’s Cabinet have approved the renewal of landlord licensing in the borough to improve the lives of residents who live in privately rented shared homes.

Thousands of residents will benefit from homes that are safe and secure as they receive better protection from landlords and letting agents who are unfit to let properties.

The Council consulted on the scheme's renewal with people living and working in Camden and its neighbouring boroughs over a 12-week period.

Over 1,000 people responded to the consultation, with 64% of respondents backing the renewal of the scheme, including 33% of landlords and managing or letting agents and 80% of private tenants.

The landlord licensing scheme is officially known as the additional licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). HMOs are shared homes, including house and flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats.

Since the scheme’s introduction in 2015, over 3,400 Camden HMOs have been inspected and licensed resulting in an estimated 15,000 improvements made by landlords – changes that have improved the quality and safety of homes for people living in Camden’s private rented sector.

However, the Council estimates that almost half of the 8,000 HMO properties in Camden remain unlicensed and are unlikely to meet the required standards.

Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes.
“I would like to thank everyone who took part in our consultation for this scheme – seeing a majority of respondents back the renewal shows the positive impact the scheme is having on Camden’s private rented sector.

"Around a third of Camden residents rent from private landlords and they deserve to live in properly regulated, secure and safe homes.

“Most landlords are decent law-abiding people, however we know that there are rogue landlords out there that continue to operate illegally, renting properties that are overcrowded and have a number of safety issues.

“The renewal of the additional licensing scheme for HMOs for a further five years will mean that we can continue to improve living standards for people who rent privately in Camden and tackle landlords who are exploiting tenants."
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes.
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes.
Councillor Apak continied: “The renewal comes at a time where we are seeing an even greater need to continue with this scheme, as the current pandemic has highlighted how important it is for all of us to have a safe and comfortable home.

“We have also seen the virus disproportionally impact Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. With many residents from our BAME communities living in the private rented sector, especially when compared to other housing tenures, the renewal of this scheme will help to ensure that every Camden resident has access to a safe and suitable home and it will support our wider ambition to address and stamp out racial inequality in the borough.”
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes.

More info about the new scheme

The new scheme, which will come into force when the old scheme ends on 8 December 2020, will include a number of improvements, such as:

  • An introduction of separate standards for shared flats and houses and self-contained flats within HMOs, in order to make the standards clearer for landlords
  • The introduction of shorter licences, where there are serious concerns about the management of the property – for example in circumstances where landlords have not met their statutory or contractual obligations, through avoidance of licensing or by putting tenant’s health and safety at risk
  • An increase to the licence fee, ensuring the scheme is self-funding, with discounts for accredited landlords and purpose built student accommodation. We have also simplified the fee to a flat rate for all HMOs

Tenants who live in an unlicensed HMOs will continue to be eligible to claim back rent paid under a rent repayment order.

You can read the related cabinet paper and reports here.