It seems like everyone’s got one – a housing story so bad that you question whether pure greed is a prerequisite for all London landlords. Maybe your ceiling fell through, and you had to withhold rent to get it fixed. Or the black mould in your bedroom is making you sick, because it keeps getting painted over instead of treated as a structural issue. Perhaps the studio you’re renting in Brockley as part of your student accommodation isn’t that bad – but then you remember you’re paying over a grand a month for it.
Welcome to London, where lax regulation, skyrocketing rents, and unfettered property development in the private rental sector have fed into a housing crisis that shows no signs of abating. Private renters are some of the worst hit, and these issues will only deepen with London expected to become a city of renters by 2025.
In this series, we investigate the landlords that make it all possible, and the systems in place that enable them; the ways in which these landlords bypass regulations and prosecutions, forgo licensing, or take advantage of vulnerable people and students. We also show how renters are fighting back, and will publish advice on how to do so without being evicted.
We have chosen the term ‘rogue’ to reflect the seriousness of the current situation. This term, according to Conservative peer Baroness Williams of Trafford, is “widely understood in the lettings industry to describe a landlord who knowingly flouts their obligations by renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation to tenants, many of whom may be vulnerable.” While not all the landlords discussed in this series may be ‘rogue’ by definition – or purposefully so – the social situation and consequences of the crisis are, and certainly warrant this term.
ELL reporter Briony Pickford shows the health and safety problems that her landlord neglected and explains how she resolved them without being evicted.
ELL reporter Thames Menteth investigates the lack of HMO (Houses of Multiple Occupation) licenses amongst Lewisham landlords and the increase in complaints in these HMOs.
Claudia Glover and Thames Menteth relay horror stories from three ELL boroughs.
Sydney Diack investigates how outsourced student accommodation is replicating the practices of rogue landlords
Claudia Glover shows us how renters are fighting back through grassroots organisations
Briony Pickford explains your rights as a tenant, and how to fight for them.