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Revealed: Shocking squalor endured by tenants of rogue Camden landlords

Mould growing around the toilet at a Camden HMO. Mould growing around the toilet at a Camden HMO.

Thursday, September 4, 2014
11:45 AM

These shocking images reveal the squalor private tenants in Camden are being subjected to by rogue landlords, as the council considers tougher legislation to improve living conditions in the private sector.

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Makeshift material used to patch up a door in one Camden HMO.Makeshift material used to patch up a door in one Camden HMO.

A new Camden Council report seen by the Ham&High outlines the problems faced by some of the tenants living in Camden’s 8,585 HMOs (houses in multiple occupation).

This includes homes covered in black mould caused by dampness, defective toilets, faulty electric circuits posing electrocution risks, collapsed ceilings and dangerous sleeping quarters.

In the wake of the report’s findings, council bosses are now considering new rules requiring all landlords to apply for a licence before converting any property into a HMO.

Camden Council leader Cllr Sarah Hayward said: “We want our residents to have safe and decent homes and to know that the support is there to assert their rights when things aren’t up to standard.

A bed on stilts in a Camden HMO.A bed on stilts in a Camden HMO.

“We’ve already taken action in the very worst properties however, our survey results show that residents, including tenants, landlords and people living near privately rented properties, think we can do more.”

The new report on HMOs was drawn up after a six-month consultation and fact-finding mission from the council between December 2013 and May this year, in which officials surveyed landlords and tenants and inspected HMOs across the borough.

Eighty-five per cent of private renters who responded to the survey said the council should do more to improve living standards in privately-rented homes and nine of the 12 landlords who responded to the survey agreed.

Currently landlords only need to apply to the council for a HMO licence if they intend to convert their property into a “large HMO”.

A large HMO is any property which is at least three storeys high and houses at least five tenants, forming more than one household, who each share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with another tenant.

The council will now embark on a 10-week public consultation on proposals to introduce a new licensing scheme requiring landlords to apply for a licence for any HMO conversion, regardless of the size.

Cllr Hayward added: “Good quality homes in multiple occupation can provide a decent and affordable place for our residents to live.

“Although we don’t have all the answers to improving standards in all homes, the proposals we are seeking the public’s views on would enable us to take action to ensure significant improvements in a larger number of properties across the borough.”

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