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Havering resident calls for new property licensing scheme after cannabis factory discovery

PUBLISHED: 09:19 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:09 27 January 2014

After three loitering men unintentionally led police to a cannabis factory, one resident has called for a rethink in how landlords are licensed.

Three men were arrested in Upper Brentwood Road in Gidea Park but later released without charge but not before police discovered a factory in a nearby house.

No further action will be taken against the three men for the incident on January 18.

One resident, who lives on the road, but did not wish to be named, said: “There were a lot of police, but there was not a lot of noise - the men did not put up much of a fight.

“There has been activity - comings and goings - at the house for the last two years.

“It is pretty obvious what is going on when the curtains are drawn all day.”

The resident added she felt cannabis farms would not be allowed to grow if Havering Council ensured landlords signed up to a same licensing scheme to allow the council more control.

The resident added: “I do not think [Havering] council is doing anything.

“Landlords in Newham have been signed up to the same licensing scheme.

“To be honest it stops all anti-social behaviour going on. God know why they have not got this in place already.”

Newham Council was the first in the country to introduce borough-wide private rented property licensing.

A Newham Council spokesman confirmed the local authority introduced the scheme “because of high levels of anti-social behaviour associated with poorly managed private rented properties”.

The scheme means all privately rented properties “must be licensed, regardless of their occupation and size”. The council will visit properties which are unlicensed.

Since the scheme was introduced 2,155 enforcement visits have been carried out in Newham.

Councillor Lesley Kelly, cabinet member for housing, defended Havering council’s current licensing scheme, before adding she felt a switch to borough-wide scheme “would not be appropriate”.

Havering uses the London-wide Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

She said: “We do not tolerate antisocial behaviour in Havering and that’s why we have one of the lowest crime rates in London.

“Farms such as this are rare, and if residents suspect that something suspicious is going on they should alert police immediately.

“We generally have good landlords in Havering who provide quality homes for local residents, so really, a selective licensing programme would not be appropriate at the moment.”

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