Are most Greenwich borough landlords getting away with avoiding new rules?

Its now been over a year since landlords of Homes of Multiple Occupation must register in Greenwich borough or face fines. Yet figures how many appear to be ignoring the requirement with little chance of punishment.

After many years wait Greenwich Council introduced increased regulation on October 1st 2017 for landlords of Homes of Multiple Occupation. That’s where a number of people live in the same property that are not a family There are an estimated 6,500 HMOs across Greenwich borough.

Yet this list of properties shows just over 400 registered to date, with the latest on the list being late September so it appears recent. That’s less than 10%. We can expect some lag but there’s a vast disparity.

The 6,500 estimate is based on a number of factors, including waste produced, council tax, and previous investigations.

One reason regulation was brought in to begin with was the sheer number of unfit homes that had been found via those prior investigations funded by central Government.

Investigations found:

“Since the start of the project the team have visited 2695 properties and responded to 1404 complaints regarding poor conditions. Over 2500 HHSRS hazards have been identified. 1098 Category one hazards requiring immediate rectification and 1501 category two hazards requiring remedial action”

With the external fund ending, money needed to be found to bolster staff to monitor the ever growing number of private rental homes and issues surrounding them.

Time to register

Landlords were given five months from October 2017 to register or face fines and/or other action. Yet by last February, with the deadline fast approaching, only an estimated 2.6% of landlords had done so.

And a year on less than 10%.


Recently introduced rules made it easier for councils to fine landlords up to £30,000, and even take over homes and collect rents to ensure tenants are not thrown out. They do not need to go through costly court proceedings either.

Yet I havn’t heard of a single fine. Certainly not at a level that would dissuade dodgy landlords ignoring the rules. Happy to be corrected in the comments if so.

The sheer number who appear to be avoiding registering should bring in much income to the stretched council, if they take the initiative.

It’s not like they’ve over-extended themselves. Greenwich opted for a far more limited set of landlord regulation than many other Labour councils (or even neighbouring Bexley) who enforce registration of all private rented homes in areas of high antisocial behaviour in addition to HMOs.

Greenwich Council are tonight hosting a meeting about HMO landlords and issue that have arisen.

It is at Woolwich Town Hall at 6:30pm.

If you have issues with poor landlords its a good chance to get down there and ask questions.

One last thing – when landlord licensing was introduced many landlord groups claim tenants would pay higher rents. Since then, rents across London have been falling in most areas (and that includes areas where enforcement is stronger).


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    4 thoughts on “Are most Greenwich borough landlords getting away with avoiding new rules?

    • It seems they bend over backwards to let people get away with what they want.

      It’s like parking. Problems everywhere. Easy opportunity to gain much revenue. More staff would pay for themselves. So what is stopping them hiring the bodies to get out there and investigate and fine. Why allow the honest people to be treated worse than the liars?

      Basic maths would say 5000+ landlords ignoring this would bring in tons of income that could be spent on better housing elsewhere (i presume its ringfenced). Even a £1k fine for each would see a lot of dosh.

    • The fee income is indeed ring-fenced, but tighter than you assume. My understanding is that it is limited to administering, investigating and enforcing the licence. At the end of the licensing period, the cost is reviewed and the fee level can rise or fall accordingly. I am also given to understand that the Council is experiencing difficulties recruiting and retaining such staff.

    • As a HMO landlord, I applied for registration to Greenwich within the five months of October 2017. It is now October 2018 and I am still waiting for someone to come and inspect my property so naturally I am not on the list.. even though I have already upgraded the property to meet the new requirements. It is also worth noting that before Oct 2017 my property was not even classed as a HMO as before a HMO was only a house that was over five people or three floors or more. So,the list you state of is not a very good indicator of the number of landlords signed up to the scheme. It is the council who are playing catchup.
      Most landlords do actually care about their tenants

    • I wish I had known about this event earlier as I would have liked to have gone.

      Is there a way I sign up for emails from the council to notify me of these things?

      HMO enforcement is the borough is awful. I have been waiting months for the council to sort out a neighbouring house that has become a slum.


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