Labour Westminster Councillors are supporting the London Renters campaign for changes to make renting privately a sustainable tenure.
“As letting agents grow in prominence on our high streets, we need to act fast to protect tenants from the ignorance and opportunism that plague the unregulated industry. This month London Renters, a coalition of tenants calling for urgent change in the private rented sector, launched its first cross-capital “Let Down” campaign.
London Renters have five core demands:
1. An end to fees for tenants, bringing English policy in line with Scotland
Excessive fees are barring large numbers of people on low and middle incomes from the private rented sector (PRS). If you’ve scraped and borrowed enough money for a deposit, an additional £200-£500 in “administration fees” is likely to knock you out the game.
2. Proper regulation of letting agents
Regulation should be introduced which requires letting agents to have a nationally recognised qualification, undergo proper training, be audited annually and report to a national regulatory body.
3. No discrimination against people on housing benefit
If you’re one of the growing number of people who rely on housing benefit to make up your rent, you won’t even get a foot through the door in the private sector. The majority of high street agents (and many mortgage lenders who supply private landlords) have a blanket policy to shut out potential tenants claiming housing benefit.
4. Action to bring down rents and keep them under control
Our campaign highlights the role played by letting agents in the steep escalation of private rents. Housing charity Shelter found that a fifth of landlords had increased their rents because letting agents had encouraged them to do so. Affordable rents to its tenants. Until the market stabilises, we need government-led rent regulation that caps rent increases in line with inflation.
5. Longer secure tenancies
Lastly, the Let Down campaign is calling for longer, more secure tenancies. Landlords also stand to benefit from longer tenancies which could provide a more certain, sustainable return on their investment. Many of the 8.5 million people renting privately, a third of whom are families with children, desperately want a home that offers more security.
In a recent study, Shelter found that 44% of renting families thought their children’s lives would improve if their housing arrangements were more stable. Unfortunately, letting agents benefit from a high turnover of tenants and contracts that are renewed regularly.