New Safer Renting Report: Licensing Private Rented Homes – Insights and Experiences from 5 London Boroughs

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Cambridge House News, Safer Renting

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Bags packed and on the street with a mattress leaning against the wall

Safer Renting has a published a new research report: Licensing Private Rented Homes; Insights and Experiences from Five London Boroughs

“This study tells us Selective Licensing needs strengthening with enhanced programmes of inspection and enforcement. This report adds to the government’s own data (in ‘A Fairer PRS’), showing that even where licensing is in place, landlord non-compliance is the norm. The report recommends improving enforcement powers with measures such as annual property inspections and continuing schemes until there is evidence it is no longer required.”

“Abolishing selective licensing risks undermining the entire stated purpose of Renters Reform Bill: improved security of tenure for renters isn’t really worth having if the homes they have the right to stay in aren’t Fit for Human Habitation.”

Shocking number of private rented properties across 5 London Boroughs non-compliant

Almost all private rented properties brought forward for licensing are non-compliant, this study has found. The findings come from research into five London local authorities’ introduction of discretionary licensing schemes. It suggests that introducing a landlord register alone won’t be enough to tackle poor property conditions, unless supported by an inspection regime.

The findings come at a time when the Renters Reform Bill is making its way through parliament. If passed, the bill will introduce a new ‘Property Portal’ – a national registration scheme.

Currently, local authorities can set up a local landlord licensing scheme if approved by the Secretary of State.

Without a licensing programme and resources to inspect, local authorities have very little data on property conditions in their local rental market.

When they set up a licensing regime, all five boroughs in this research were shocked by an unanticipated high degree of non-compliance.

Environmental Health Professionals found that complaints, “in 9 times out of ten, 19 times out of twenty”, related to a property that had been licensed. One borough reported an estimate of 95 % of properties that had applied for a licence had not complied with its conditions.

Many were failing because of ‘Category 1’ hazards, which constitute the most serious risk to health. On top of this, many properties required multiple inspections before reaching the required standard.

The report by Roz Spencer and Julie Rugg, available to download here, is based on case study work in five London boroughs: Camden, Ealing, Enfield, Waltham Forest and Westminster.

Further information

About Safer Renting

Safer Renting is a service established by Cambridge House in 2015 to protect the rights of private rented sector tenants exploited and victimised by criminal Landlords. In 2020 it published the award-winning report “Journeys in the Shadow Private Rented Sector” and in 2023 it published its 2022 Illegal Evictions Count.

Safer Renting:

  • Works in partnership with local authorities and the police to intervene in illegal evictions and prevent homelessness.
  • Provides access to justice for victimised tenants.
  • Inform the development of public policy by undertaking research that exposes the activities of criminal landlords and the devastating impact on vulnerable families.

Media Enquires

See full Press Release

Contact Roz Spencer, 07539 326012,

About Cambridge House Safer Renting

The Cambridge House Safer Renting team present the ‘go-to’ blog on the world of the Shadow Private Rented Sector.

We monitor the world of rogue landlord and agent activity, publicise developments, circulate innovative ideas, keep readers abreast of changes in laws and regulations, raising awareness of criminal trends and scams, celebrate successful actions and interview people working in the field, connecting up anyone involved, from tenants and their advisers, to enforcement officers, lawyers and journalists.

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