We need more housing but NOT when it means returning to the bad old days when tenants are exploited by greedy landlords.

Picture: When there is no bed a bench outside Tesco will have to do.

Hot bedding is common place in Thornton Heath where people working in the day share beds with people doing night shifts as is sub letting.

At the last Thornton Heath Community Action Team meeting concerns were raised about how the council’s landlord licensing system is of limited use if it is not fully enforced.

In Croydon landlords have to pay a licence fee of £750 and a House in Multiple Occupation requires a mandatory licence. According to the council there are 134 HMOs that have been licensed in Croydon North compared to 47 in central Croydon and 41 in Croydon south but many more exist under the radar.
Local Labour councillor Alison Butler, who is the deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning, said: “We always advise residents to contact the council about any properties they have concerns about. We are aware that tenants themselves are often fearful of doing this, for fear of losing their homes. The government’s Right to Rent, requiring Landlords to carry out immigration checks have made this all the more difficult.”
 She revealed that the council is proactively trolling for HMOs avoiding the system using council tax , benefits and electoral roll data, The fire service is just about to start ‘area activity’ during which many officers will visit most if not all residential properties in several areas of the borough to check for occupation. The council is also devising a tool, to predict the location of previously unknown HMOs.
From October, rogue landlords face banning orders, and maximum £30,000 fines and prison under new powers being adopted by the council.

The council’s selective licensing scheme, introduced in October 2015, already
has the power to fine or prosecute landlords who either run unlicensed private properties or break their licence conditions by renting out dangerous or poor-quality housing.

Barbara Lewis, local resident and former housing officer, said: “It would seem that at present the council adopt a softly softly approach to landlords who are not fulfilling their obligations – this needs to stop immediately as the majority of HMO landlords are earning maximum profits (usually from the housing benefit system) for these properties and they must be held account for their tenants and the upkeep of the property.

“The council’s Landlord Licensing Scheme was introduced to help stamp out rogue landlords operating in our borough and this is a good thing especially as the council have had some recent successful prosecutions. However the number of HMOs need to be reduced and the previous culture of Thornton Heath being known as an area where rogue landlords can operate needs to be reversed .”