Bad landlords

MQT on 2017-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2017
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Do you agree that local politicians who are partners in landlord businesses should be especially careful to comply with housing law?


Answer for Bad landlords

Answer for Bad landlords

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  All landlords should make sure they comply with housing law.  As Mayor, although my powers in the private rental sector are limited, I am committed to doing everything in my power to improve the lives of London’s renters.  It is important to make clear that most landlords offer a good service and treat their tenants well, but when a minority of landlords let their tenants down and commit criminal practice, we must make sure we take action.  


To that end, my officers are working on options for naming and shaming criminal landlords and I will be announcing details of my approach to that in the near future.  When tackling those landlords who let their tenants down, working with local councils is the key and a key tool at their disposal is landlord licensing, which can provide a simple framework within which local authorities can take enforcement action, with the licence fees to help finance the schemes.  I am doing everything in my power to help and support renters in London’s challenging market.


Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you for that answer.  I am very pleased to hear that you are proposing to name and shame criminal landlords.  To misquote or paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one could say to Barnet Conservative Party Councillors, “To have one mayor exposed a dodgy landlord may be regarded as a misfortune; to have two looks like carelessness”.  In this Chamber a couple of years ago, I exposed then Mayor of Barnet dubious practices as a landlord of 19 properties in the borough.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  You do know that you only have limited protection here, do you not?


Andrew Dismore AM:  Yes.  Boris Johnson [former Mayor of London] agreed with my criticisms and on just one of the many issues said - and this is Boris Johnson’s words - I quote:


“It sounds to me as though he is not being fair to the tenant.  It seems to me to be prima facie illegal.”


You might have thought Barnet Council Conservatives would have been more careful over their choice of mayors, but it has happened again.  The Mayor last year, has seen his property business fined for illegally letting out a terraced house in Camden where 14 people were found sharing a single kitchen.  Environmental Health officers found rat droppings in a storage room, tenants were able to access an unguarded flat roof and the building did not have a house of multiple occupancy licence.  The firm was ordered to pay almost £10,000 by Highbury Corner Magistrate’s Court after the company pleaded guilty for failing to licence the house and to two breaches of HMO regulations. 


Given the role of councils in regulating housing and rental conditions, how can the public trust that councillors are working in the best interests of the public if they themselves do not abide by the law, rules and good practice that should apply to them?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I cannot give an answer to a specific landlord, for obvious reasons.  What I can say is, most landlords, generally speaking, who have private tenants, are responsible and understand the responsibility upon them.  One of the reasons why I have been keen to get additional powers in relation to local authorities to be able to licence landlords is that it raises standards. 


The concern you have expressed about public confidence is, if those who are licensing authorities are behaving this way, it does not give confidence to the public.  I cannot talk about specific cases, for reasons that are obvious.  I am quite keen to get additional powers in relation to the private rented sector. 


One of the things we are trying to do, Chairman, is to make it easier for those local authorities who want to be licensing authorities to be licensing authorities.  I have helped applications made by Redbridge and Newham recently.  The database we are going to set up of criminal landlords will help potential tenants in relation to recognising that a landlord has a criminal conviction against them, but it is really important that tenants get a decent deal from landlords.