A controversial move to make it compulsory for landlords to have a license in Waltham Forest has been delayed following pressure from the industry.
The cabinet yesterday voted to further assess the scheme and bring proposals back to the table after council elections in May.
Waltham Forest Landlords (WFL), a campaign group working with Victor Michael letting agents, which is said to collectively own or manage more than 4,000 properties in the borough, say a plan to charge landlords £500 per property for a license is unfair.
But leading councillors claim the licence is necessary to address anti-social behaviour (ASB) caused by poorly managed privately rented properties.
However, a WFL spokesman said good landlords and their tenants would be unfairly penalised.
He said: “The Labour council is trying to license good landlords under the guise of targeting rogue landlords.
“However the reality is that only law-abiding landlords, estimated to be around 31,000, will come forward whilst the rogue ones, estimated to be around 3,000, remain underground.
“In these difficult financial times the landlords will be forced to pass on the cost of a license, £500 per property, to their tenants, so the scheme ends up being a tenants’ tax.”
The private rented sector makes up one third of homes in the borough, a figure that has nearly doubled in a decade.
At the cabinet meeting last night Councillor Marie Pye, cabinet member for housing, said: “It’s an important process, we’re looking at the detailed responses and after the election, all being well, bring recommendations.”
Cllr Pye said the scheme’s consultation was “one of the most extensive the council had ever seen” with more than 1,600 detailed responses.
To apply for a license, landlords would need to acquire references from potential tenants and directly deal with anti-social behaviour or crime in a property.
Failure to acquire a license, or to achieve acceptable management standards, could lead to a fine of up to £20,000, or loss of control of a property.
The WFL believes the measure had been delayed over fears for votes in the up and coming election.
The spokesman added: “The Labour-led council are now so concerned about the backlash from landlords and tenants all across the borough in the May local elections that they have been forced to defer any decision about implementing the scheme until after the votes have been counted.”