Islington Council vows to stop “slum landlordism”

Islington Council is beginning a consulation to crack down on rented properties on Holloway Road and Caledonian Road that are considered to be unfit for habitation.

A member of the council has hailed the consultation as the first step in a battle to “stop slum landlordism” in the area.

Holloway Councillor Paul Smith expressed his anger at the area’s “slum landlords”, telling Islington Now: “People sometimes end up paying 60 or 70 percent of their salary to live in a slum or a shoe box.”

“These landlords make profit out of people’s desperation.”

The consultation process, which began on Monday, is building towards an intended licensing scheme to deal with an increasing number of uninhabitable properties.

The interior of a substandard property on Holloway Road
The interior of a property on Holloway Road

A survey conducted by council officers in May revealed that of the 208 properties that were visited, 141 appeared to have problems such as mice infestations, undersized box rooms or unsafe and dirty communal areas.

3,500 tenants live in 600 properties on the two roads, as landlords attempt to take advantage of the booming London property market.

This inflation of property prices in the area saw Savills estate agents value starter homes at over £340,000 in 2013.

Some of the properties in the area do not even have planning permission.

While Smith does not believe that these reforms will necessarily have a direct effect on skyrocketing property values, he is hopeful that the licensing scheme, which is a “priority issue for the council”, will protect “ordinary working people”.

He added: “They are subject to the worst aspects of the renting market.”

The intention is to implement a system where landlords will be made to pay £260 every five years to license each bedsit, studio or bedroom in a property occupied by three or more people.

If a landlord does not comply with the rules, they could then be fined up to £20,000 per property.

Councillor Paul Smith vowed to stop landlords who “make profit out of people’s desperation”

Councillor James Murray, who is Islington’s executive member for housing and development, confirmed that the plans would improve living standards, adding: “To get the licence, landlords will have to meet various standards in terms of accommodation and their treatment of tenants.”

Should the results of the consultation prove positive, the new rules could be enacted in January 2015.

In addition to this measure, Islington Council is planning to launch a new council-run letting agency to give tenants access to affordable homes.

This measure is the first of its kind in the UK.