Housing charter to protect against ‘rogue’ landlords

Private renting makes up 40% of Tower Hamlets housing Pic: Nicobobinus

A charter to protect private renters in Tower Hamlets against exploitative landlords will launch at the end of the month.

The Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter will be implemented on July 29 after a three-year campaign to give tenants “the right to live in a safe and secure home and be treated fairly”.

In a statement this week, Mayor John Biggs said: “This Charter provides a quick and easy way for all private renters to find out what their rights are, what standards they should expect, and where to go for help.”

The charter protects renters from discrimination and hidden letting fees in agency offices and online. It also prevents landlords from raising rents during fixed tenancy periods and demands annual gas safety checks, working carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms, and for damp and mould problems to be dealt with efficiently.

The move follows last year’s landlord licensing scheme in Spitalfields and Whitechapel, which was implemented after renters protested against extortionate estate agents fees to move into properties.

“This is a big issue for growing numbers of people relying on private renting for their home,” Biggs added.

Private renting in East London now makes up 40 percent of all housing with an estimated 46,000 private tenants, however this is expected to rise to 74,000 within the next decade.

John Stewart, Policy Manager at the Residential Landlords Association, said that “well informed tenants” and “effective enforcement” help to maintain standards in private housing and “deny space for the crooks, who give the whole sector a bad name, to operate.”

The charter has been endorsed by a number of tenant agencies including ARLA Propertymark and Property Ombudsman Services, the Vice-Chair of which, Michael Stoop, hopes will “publicise the rights of renters, and when backed up with enforcement action, will also help to take out rogue landlords.”

Glenn McMahon, a campaigner from the private housing rights groups Tower Hamlets Renters, told ELL they “welcome” the charter “as a first step towards addressing some of the difficulties private renters face including transparency of letting agent fees, sub-standard living conditions or illegal evictions.”

TH Renters is “pleased to hear” that the Council has employed additional staff to enforce these improvements however McMahon said the biggest concern of London’s private tenants is “astronomical rents that force people into poverty, overcrowding, homelessness or into leaving London all together.” The organisation says that while they embrace the charter, exorbitant rent in London can only be dealt with by central government.

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