Newham Borough Council, London has become the first council in the country to require all private rented sector landlords to be licensed.

After extensive consultation with residents, stakeholders, private sector tenants, landlords and letting agencies, Newham councillors approved the pioneering scheme at a Cabinet meeting on 21 June 2012.

The scheme, which covers around 35,.000 tenancies came into force on 1 January 2013.

It is reported that private landlords will pay £150 for a give-year licence if they have registered before the 1 January 2013. If they register after that deadline, the full fee will be £500. Landlords who fail to licence will face fines of up to £20,000.

This move is designed to combat rogue landlords with illegal, ramshackle buildings at the bottom of gardens which the rent out to tenants who then live in Dickensian squalor.

Newham Mayor, Sir Robert Wales, is quoted as having said: 'It is clear from our consultation that our residents, including tenants in private sector homes, back our plans. ...'

He went on to say: "We want to ensure that private sector rented properties are well managed and meet a good standard. We also want to deal with the crime and anti-social behaviour that is sometimes associated with bad private sector rented housing. ...

'... We will never accept private sector tenants being directly exploited by landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions.

"Good landlords have nothing to fear from this scheme. For the bad ones, this a clear message they must clean up their act - or pay the price.

"One bad house can drag down a whole street. We are doing this for the community.'

The move has been welcomed by Shelter whose Director of Communications, Kay Boycott, said: 'We are delighted to hear that Newham Council will be introducing this scheme, which will help protect vulnerable tenants from rogue landlords who are making their tenants' lives hell. ...'

Details of the scheme can be seen on: www.newham.gov.uk/housing/privatesectorhousing.htm