Westminster Labour is calling on the council to urgently bring in two extra powers available to it in law to help tackle poor landlords and respond to the rise of unauthorised short-let properties such as Airbnb.

Selective Licensing would give Westminster Council greater powers to improve standards in the private rental sector in response to poor housing conditions and anti-social behaviour. Due to the limits imposed by the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition Government in 2015 Councils are only free to introduce these protections by themselves for 20% or less of the council’s area or < 20% of its private rented housing. However Westminster Labour believes the council should seek to introduce such a scheme in areas of greatest need first, while applying to the Secretary of State to apply the powers more widely.

Additional Licensing would give Westminster Council more power to ensure all Houses in Multiple Occupation are subject to improved safeguards and that they work with the council to improve standards. (Recent improvements to legislation make this measure less pressing by itself than when Labour had previously called for it but it still has benefits, particularly as set out below)

Most other London boroughs have been employing one or both of these schemes for many years but Westminster Council has so far resisted taking such measures to help private renters. There is however also a strong secondary reason for the council to implement these powers. Taken together the both extra powers would give the council powers it currently lacks to monitor the use of privately rented properties to ensure that they are being used for unauthorised short-lets/mini-hotels.

Westminster Labour Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug said “Westminster Council must take full advantage of the powers already available to it and which are being successfully used across London to improve standards for private renters. These measures would also give the Council far greater ability to identify and address homes being used illegally as permanent short-let flats, which are causing so many problems for communities across Westminster.”

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