Housing Cabinet Member visits HMO properties to see licensing scheme in action

Camden’s landlord licensing scheme has seen over 3,100 houses in multiple occupation 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.

Camden was the first inner London borough to introduce an additional licensing scheme for House in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in 2015. HMOs are shared homes, including house and flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats.

As the current additional HMO licensing scheme is now coming to an end the Council is proposing to renew it for another five years.

To see the scheme in action Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes, visited two Camden HMOs.

Mollie Osbourne, a tenant in a Rochester Square HMO property told Councillor Apak how she recently contacted the council after a gas leak in her property, “We had a gas leak because our landlord came to refit an oven. He did it himself and he’s not gas registered, so he didn’t fit it properly.

“When there was a leak we contacted the landlord and asked him to send a gas engineer, but he came round himself, he still didn’t fix it and then that night when we got back from work the smell of gas was really bad so we just made a complaint to the council to see if there was anything they could do.”

An inspection of the property by the council found dangerous sockets and switches, which have since been repaired by the landlord and the oven has also been installed correctly.

Ms Osbourne added, “I’m hoping this will have a positive impact and stop it from happening again. I think the scheme is a good thing for renters in Camden.”

The Landlord of the Rochester Square property risks a fine of up to £120,000 and each tenant may be eligible for up to 12 months’ rent repayments.

Councillor Apak also visited a property on Camden High Street that was previously rented through a rogue ‘rent to rent’ agency. The property was found to have improperly partitioned rooms, no working heat or fire detectors, poorly fitted electrical wiring, cracked windows and a bathroom with no ventilation.

Since the council’s inspection, the landlord, Anas Ahmed, has taken back control of the property and promptly removed the partitioned rooms, significantly improved the fire safety of the property, installed central heating with radiators fitted in each room, installed double-glazed windows and committed to further improving the property over the next two years.

Mr Ahmed told Councillor Apak, “After completing the repairs we needed to, it brought peace of mind. It was a lot of work but afterwards I felt satisfied that my property was more secure for the tenants and myself.

“We did advise the tenants, look it’s going to be a bit of inconvenience for you but in the long run you will benefit from this as it’s for your safety and comfort, so they happily cooperated with us.

“I’d say to other landlords that this HMO scheme is very good, take it positively. It may have some financial impact but in the broader picture there are people’s lives involved in it. We didn’t want to take a risk; a small accident can lead to a big disaster.”

After visiting the two properties Councillor Apak said, “It is clear from what I have heard today that the additional HMO licensing scheme is having a positive impact on improving property and management standards in Camden. Not only are landlords receiving peace of mind, but tenants are happier and safer.

“This scheme has always been a long-term strategy. Our initial research estimated that there were up to 8,000 HMOs in Camden, a significant number of those remain illegally unlicensed and once we begin working with landlords, we know it can take time to carry out the repairs sometimes required.

“Renewing the scheme for another five years will allow us to continue striving towards making all homes in Camden safe, correctly managed and properly maintained.”

There’s still time to have your say on our proposals to renew Camden’s additional HMO licensing scheme. Find out more about the scheme and have your say on by visiting by Sunday 8 March.