All privately-rented homes in parts of Woolwich, Plumstead and Shooters Hill will need a licence from October under plans approved by senior Greenwich councillors last week.
The “selective licensing” scheme had been due to be introduced in 2020, but approval was delayed because of the pandemic, when private landlords were banned from evicting their tenants.
Plans were approved by the council’s cabinet last Wednesday. Licences are set to cost from £312 for landlords who apply early, rising to £780.
Councils can require up to 20 per cent private rented homes in their areas to be licensed – if they want to go further, they need government approval. Greenwich’s proposal falls just short of this limit, at 18.7 per cent.
The area covered is bounded by Woolwich High Street, Plumstead Road and the North Kent rail line in the north; Church Manor Way, Wickham Lane and the Woodlands Estate to the east; Shrewsbury Lane and Shooters Hill to the south; and Red Lion Lane, Nightingale Place and John Wilson Street to the west. It does not include the Woolwich Common Estate or nearby army accommodation.
The area has a large concentration of private rented homes, but is also a hotspot for antisocial behaviour – something the council hopes can be tackled by licensing rented homes.
“The scheme will ensure that the council is able to improve housing conditions for private tenants in those areas and deal with the consequences and outcomes of poorly managed properties,” a paper before the cabinet said.
While all homes of multiple occupation in the borough need to be licensed, the scheme has been criticised for poor enforcement of the rules.
The council says that landlords have been evicting HMO tenants to escape licensing – an issue that has particularly affected the Nepalese community in Plumstead. It hopes that extending licensing to single-household homes will clamp down on this.
Jackie Smith, the cabinet member for community safety and enforcement, said: “It’s sad we weren’t able to do it before now, but it’s something our residents very much need. I know it’s been a long process and a long time coming.”
Southwark, Croydon, Waltham Forest and Newham already operate selective licensing schemes; Lewisham is consulting on a scheme that would cover most of the borough.
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