Spotlight shone on 6,000 unlicensed homes in multiple occupation
Camden Council is investigating homes in the borough that may be operating illegally as unlicensed homes in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The Council estimates there may be between 4,000-6,000 unlicensed HMOs in Camden and held a Housing Action Day on Wednesday (26 April 2017) to draw landlords’ attention to their responsibilities and inform tenants of their rights.
Housing officers raided several shared homes in the morning suspected of being poorly managed and let without a licence. The team found:
- A flat divided into four bedsits on Haverstock Hill with fire safety hazards and a dangerous balcony. Officers suspect that the agents managing the flat sub-divided the lounge to create two bedrooms, one of them measuring just 5.3m2.
- Another raid in the Euston area discovered an unlicensed five-bedroom bedsit with inadequate fire precautions.
- The landlords and agents in control or managing the properties will now be investigated with a view to prosecution for Housing Act offences.
Typical practices unscrupulous landlords pursue include dangerously sub-dividing kitchen-diners to create additional bedrooms to maximise rental income, while neglecting basic health and safety measures including fitting smoke alarms and providing safe escape routes in the event of a fire.
All HMOs in Camden, regardless of their size, must now be licensed with the council. An HMO includes house and flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats.
“Licensing HMOs in Camden protects tenants’ rights and improves their living standards, while the landlord gains certification from us that their home is fit to let. Our message to landlords running these shared homes is to seek advice from us and to get a licence – otherwise they could face prosecution, an unlimited fine and paying a rent refund.”
Just under 2,000 properties in Camden are either licensed or in the process of being inspected for a licence. Camden’s preferred approach is to work with landlords to help them make any necessary improvements to their property so that they can be licensed.
Camden’s Housing Action Day coincided with the Mayor of London announcing his London Criminal Landlords and Agents Watchlist project. Camden is one of six boroughs on a steering group leading this project, contributing to a database of London criminal landlords to be published on the GLA website in Autumn 2017.
“We’re delighted to work with the Mayor of London to contribute to the database which will allow tenants in Camden to wise up about criminal landlords they may come across, so they can access safe and well-maintained housing.”