East London borough gets compulsory landlord registration

A nationwide system of compulsory landlord registration moved one step closer last week, following news that an East London borough had introduced its own register.

Landlords in Newham are now legally obliged to apply for a licence from the council. Those who fail to do so face prosecution, and could be fined up to £20,000.

The borough’s landlords were required to apply for a licence by 1 January, with discounts available on applications made by this date. Following consultation, however, the council agreed to extend the discount period to 31 January.

Applications made before 31 January will attract a £150 fee. Those made after that date will be charged at the full fee of £500. A separate licence is required for each property.

The council insists that in addition to offering extra protection for tenants, the registration system will help to safeguard the reputations of reputable landlords. It also suggests that rates of antisocial behaviour are higher in poor quality accommodation.

Government ministers have publicly opposed a nationwide system of landlord registration, instead leaving the decision to individual councils. But it is widely thought that the Newham move could open the door to further registration schemes across England. Landlords in Scotland are already required to register by law.