Lewisham Labour this week admitted it’s not doing enough for renters as Cllr Egan faced questioning from renters rights campaigner Bobby Dean this week over Lewisham’s lack of enforcement on rogue landlords.
Bobby highlighted London Assembly figures revealing Lewisham only checks 1 in 689 rented homes a year – the worst enforcement rate in London with boroughs checking 1 in 54 a year on average. He asked that the council acts to ensure that standards are enforced as much in Lewisham as elsewhere in London.
Cllr Egan responded: “We know standards are extremely variable and there are landlords who will exploit the extreme housing need in the borough by providing poor accommodation. There are 30,000 homes in the private rented sector. Over the past couple of years we have focused resources on the worst rogue landlords.
He said that Lewisham’s approach has over the last couple of years led to one problematic landlord being driven out of business and four raids, before adding: “Obviously with more resources we could do more.”
The response came as a Renters Rights meeting with Olly Grender, who introduced a Bill to scrap lettings fees – which ministers have now agreed to – was due to be held in Lewisham.
Bobby and London Lib Dems have campaigned for landlord licensing which puts the costs of enforcing standards onto landlords. Cllr Egan promised Bobby he would introduce landlord licensing but gave no details. Ten London boroughs have already introduced or announced licensing and more have set out plans to.
Bobby Dean, Lewisham Deptford Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman, said:
“We know resources have been tight, but when Lewisham is this far behind the London average it’s not an excuse. The small handful of rotten landlords it has acted on must be the tip of the iceberg. It should get its act together and use available powers to make sure landlords rent out safe and decent housing.”