You may remember that we blogged earlier in the year about concerns around the delay in getting a decision on the scheme, particularly when it had such widespread support and was demonstrably improving the private rented sector in the borough.
It seems the government have listened, although the scheme is no longer borough-wide, as the Olympic Park build-to-rent scheme in Stratford has been exempted.
While there may be no chance of beds in sheds in a development like this, tenants there are paying higher rents and like everyone, surely deserve the same level of protection. We also hope that it doesn’t signal a move towards allowing institutional landlords to avoid the regulations that they don’t like.
Now that the decision has been made, with 41,000 tenants (and counting) in Newham falling under licensing for the next five years, the hard work can really start.
Newham has led the country in cracking down on rogue landlords, and being proactive in prosecuting housing offenders, but there is still much to be done.
In particular, the council should be going into next year’s local elections with proposals to make the scheme as tenant-friendly as possible, ensuring that renters are aware of their rights and are properly supported when their landlords fails to comply with conditions around upkeep and management.
We also hope this positive decision from central government will encourage more local authorities around the country, to consider borough-wide schemes, and London councillors should be pushing for this in their upcoming manifestos, in a city where more licensing is so clearly needed.
As a result of the delays in approving the scheme, Newham’s private renters will now face a gap between the end of the old scheme and the start of the new, which should have been avoided.
However, today we should be welcoming an important acknowledgement of the effectiveness of licensing, and preparing to make the new scheme better and more successful than the last.