By Tara O’Connor, local democracy reporter
Croydon Council has been branded a “slum landlord” after a scheme that helped them crack down on dodgy private landlords was not renewed by government.
The landlord licensing scheme had allowed the authority to carry out checks on 38,000 homes and prosecute landlords.
A third of households in Croydon privately rent their homes and for five years the authority ran a scheme that carried out checks on property conditions.
The licensing scheme served 1,000 enforcement notices and saw 75 landlords banned from holding a licence.
Shocking conditions discovered included homes with fire risks and no internal windows – For the most serious, the council took more than 20 cases to court.
‘Is the council going to take itself to court?’
But earlier this year, shocking conditions were exposed in a council-owned block of flats in Regina Road, South Norwood – where residents lived with serious damp and mould for years.
The seeming hypocrisy was pointed out by an opposition councillor at a cabinet meeting on Monday night (August 16).
In June, government refused the council’s application to renew its five-year selective licensing scheme.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick found that Croydon Council had not shown how the scheme would improve housing conditions in the borough.
A rejection letter from Mr Jenrick states that the council did not provide his department with copies of its housing strategy or evidence of what else it is doing to address housing issues.
Opposition member for homes, Councillor Lynne Hale accused the council of being a “slum landlord”.
She said: “The problem with this report is it exposes the fact that the council had no plan B. You really need to take ownership of this its not the government’s fault for refusing, it is the council’s fault.
“Croydon itself is a slum landlord, so I wonder are you taking yourselves to court for Regina Road?
“You are failing thousands of residents and families across the borough we continue to get reports of damp, mould ridden council flats and unsafe private rented houses.”
At cabinet, Councillor Stuart King, member for Croydon renewal said he was “stunned” by the refusal.
He added: “We are bitterly disappointed by the decision but we have no option but to accept it. We will not accept poor safety standards.”
Cllr King continued: “You’ve made reference to Regina Road and the council has apologised for the situation we took immediate action.
“We need to do more to support he private renters, you cannot seek to stand up for Croydon’s council tenants but sit back when it comes to providing protection for [private renters].
“This council will address poor standards of quality in all homes.”
The cabinet agreed to look at what steps can be taken now the application has been refused.
This could include a scheme just looking at houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).