Waltham Forest council’s licencing scheme for landlords started on 15th June. By that date all private landlords should have registered with the council – although unfortunate timing meant the online registration form was offline for maintenance from 16 – 19 June. Details about the Private Rented Property Licence, or PRPL, can be found here. It aims to tackle rogue landlords – and there’s no question that the borough has far too many of these – but sceptics fear that unless it is effectively policed it will have little effect.
How does it work? The landlord pays a fee of £500 for a 5-year period. He/she has to provide a gas safety certificate on registration, an electrical certificate is not required, although an inspection officer can request one to be supplied within 28 days. The rental address and landlord name is published on a register on the council’s website. The main methods of policing are council inspection officers making spot checks, or tenants or neighbours reporting problems.
I asked a Hoe St. letting agent how the scheme was going so far. “We notified all our landlords and 90% have registered. He hoped it would work but added “the problem landlords don’t go through us – they probably don’t even have tenancy agreements.” Newham introduced a similar scheme about two years ago and Waltham Forest claims that borough’s success led them to follow suit.
The scheme is a great opportunity to raise the safety standards of private rented accommodation. But we know a number of Warner flats still have the original electrical installations, and some have recently been found to have inadequate earthing (see previous blog), so it’s a shame the council hasn’t seized this opportunity to make homes safer by requiring electrical safety certificates and Portable Appliance Tests as standard.