Landlords and letting agents operating in Lambeth, one of London’s largest boroughs, are bracing for the introduction of a selective licensing scheme that could become the most expensive of its kind in the UK. The proposed scheme carries a significant £923 fee per property for a duration of five years.
Set to commence in September 2024, the scheme initially targets four wards in the southern part of the borough: Streatham Common & Vale, Knight’s Hill, Streatham St Leonard’s, and Streatham Hill East. This initial phase does not require approval from Whitehall. However, Lambeth Council plans to expand the scheme to an additional 19 wards in 2025, pending authorization from the Secretary of State.
The rationale behind this phased implementation is to enable the council to first address areas with the most severe housing conditions. Lambeth Council is keen to gather feedback from landlords, tenants, and letting agents on this proposed scheme.
Why Lambeth’s Licensing Scheme Stands Out
Lambeth’s selective licensing fee sets a new high in the UK, raising questions about the justification for such a steep charge. The borough is no stranger to leading in fees; it currently operates London’s most costly HMO licensing scheme.
Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing & Homelessness, emphasizes the council’s commitment to improving living standards in the private rented sector. Despite many landlords in Lambeth providing satisfactory accommodations, the council continues to find renters living in substandard and hazardous conditions.
Cllr Kay states, “We have already taken significant action to tackle poor standards in the private rented sector, and although most landlords operating in Lambeth provide our residents with decent, well-managed, and safe homes, we continue to uncover renters living in hazardous and unacceptable conditions. We are focused on improving health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities for people in Lambeth. That’s why we have launched our consultation on the private rented property sector as part of our commitment to addressing these issues.”
The licensing scheme demands landlords adhere to 22 conditions. Landlords unable to meet these requirements must appoint a letting agent or another third party to manage their properties. The council’s initiative reflects its dedication to enhancing the living conditions of renters and addressing broader social inequalities within Lambeth.