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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Almost no-one escapes unscathed from London’s private renting market in north London, survey finds

"I have so many bad rental stories. In one case, an agency told us their £300 fees would include 'everything'. Then, the landlord decided to slap on another charge for drawing up the contract - one copied and pasted from the Internet. There was nothing we could do without giving up the flat at short notice and becoming homeless." This is the experience of Ronald Stewart, Green Party candidate in the recent by-election in St. Ann’s.

Ronald Stewart, Anne Clark and Jarelle Francis (right to left), Haringey Green Party prospective candidates for 2018 Council elections

Nine out of ten renters had experienced four or more serious problems during their time renting in London. 

Another one of them is Anne Clark, one of a team Haringey Green Party members getting ready to contest the local elections in 2018:

"As a private renter in London, I've lived in houses that have literally been falling apart, where the landlord has invested nothing in maintenance, but still tried to put the rent up every year. On one occasion, the boiler broke in the middle of winter, and there was no hot water or heating in the house for nearly three weeks, but we were offered no help or compensation.

“London needs a housing policy that puts renters first and holds dodgy landlords and letting agencies to account."

London Assembly Member Sian Berry has launched a report “What are London renters thinking?” based on the results of her recent Big Renters Survey of London’s private tenants.[i]

The report lays bare the scale of dissatisfaction among London’s renters, over a range of areas including rocketing rent costs, incomplete repairs, lost deposits and fear of losing their homes at the end of each annual contract. It also reveals the appetite for an independent renter’s organisation to investigate bad landlords, provide a voice for renters and campaign for better standards.

Across the north London boroughs of Barnet, Enfield, Hackney, Camden, Islington and Waltham Forest, renters spent on average 44 per cent of their entire take-home pay on covering their rent. Fifty-three per cent of Enfield and Haringey renters reported that they had problems with landlords coming into their homes without permission. This was the highest percentage in London, compared with a London-wide average of 43 per cent.

Significantly, nearly six out of ten renters said they would be prepared to pay a small fee to join a London-wide organisation that helped them in these ways.

Sian said:

“As a renter in London for nearly 20 years, it’s important to me that I keep bringing the voices of London’s 2.3 million private renters into City Hall. In this report I’m recommending that the Mayor stands up for London’s private renters and support them in standing up for themselves.

“The willingness of renters to pay a small fee to join a renters’ organisation is very significant, as it means such a group could become self-sustaining once it has been set up. The Mayor should look seriously at providing practical help such as office space and seed funding to help found an independent London-wide organisation to represent renters in our city.”

Among other recommendations, Sian’s report suggests more support at the London-wide level for renters, including a central information source with links to existing renter’s groups and council schemes. In addition to this, Sian calls for continued pressure from the Mayor to push the government to devolve more powers over housing to London.[ii]

Sixty-eight per cent of the 1,530 renters who filled in the survey also wrote in additional information, telling Sian about their experiences in London.[iii]

A copy of the report is available here: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sian_berry_renter_sur...

An interactive map of results by GLA constituency area is here: http://www.sianberry.london/big-renters-survey/results/ 

[i] Sian launched the Big Renters Survey in July: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/assembly/sian-berry/launch...

[ii] The full recommendations of the report are:

1.       Better engagement with renters

Including seed funding a London-wide organisation to carry out research and investigations and provide a voice for renters in dealings with City Hall and councils

2.       More help and information for renters

Provided by the GLA, with a central information source and links to existing groups and council schemes.

3.       Better regulation and support for landlords

With support at the London level to ensure consistent council enforcement, training and licensing

4.       Enhanced regulation of the sector nationally

With continued pressure from the Mayor, Assembly and London’s borough councils for powers to be devolved to London

[iii] Sixteen case studies are quoted in the report.

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I am not hearing a balanced report. Renters need housing that local authorities cannot provide, therefore private home owners fill this need given the high cost of houses that local authorities are not prepared to purchase at market rates to supply to renters. Whatever price a private owner decides to set for the rental of their property should be their business as long as someone is prepared to pay. There is a contract between 2 parties that is enforcable by law so there is already a mechanism for justice. I would also like to see a national register for renters, to know their rental history, feedback from previous home owners, any disputes. I hear many stories of local authorities informing tenants to wait until they receive the eviction notice before the council will find them accommodation and rent money for DHSS renters is paid directly to the renter. Some councils are therefore working against home owners/landlords which is one reason homeowners with decent properties that they have invested thousands in stay clear of DHSS renters as a result of councils working against them. Both sides renters and homeowners need protection against the other, from those on the other side that would seek to disrespect and take advantage. There are also horror stories from homeowners that would make interesting reading. I as a homeowner with rented property would happily pay towards a govern funded scheme so that renters are also regulated.

As .long as section 21 exists and Landlords can evict for no reason, the problems will continue this is a National scandal and we have primitive rental laws that enable homelessness unless we change it by an act of Parliament it will just go  on.

The answer seems simple to me - bring back rent regulation. Tax the "buy to let" market out of existence.

The wealthy "real landlords" will find other methods to protect profits that is not available to the small scale landlord who js only trying to invest for his families future because pensions will be worthless and retirement age will be increasing. We were led down this path by government legislation to invest that we planned to accordingly as a micro business only to now have drastic changes made to the rules mid term. The truth is this government hates micro businesses regardless of what they say because micro is disruptive and takes away from the big boyes and micro is difficult to control. Control within the hands of the wealthy is the end game same as EU type approval for products. For now this will just mean passing on more cost to tenants and with the extra 3% when purchasing a second house, there will be little to no new entrants as landlords.

The answer is never simple and if the buy to let market is taxed out of existence, then who will provide housing. Maybe all those people that benefited from buying cheap council houses paid for by tax payers will hand them back at a discounted price to local authorities. Governments create this problem and now successfully turn the not haves against the haves. Job done. just simple blame people that work hard and invest in a buy to let property for their future for the problems of a shortage of rental property and the expense of renting. Lets kill micro businesses and hand everything over to corporations, as governments hate micro businesses as well. One big corporate world managed by the rich.

The balance of power is not with a landlord and both sides have powers under the law and the tenancy agreement. A tenant can also give notice to leave a property. A person takes out a mortgage of £300,000 to buy a flat for renting. The mortgage needs to be covered and break even at least or maybe make some profit. If rent restrictions are in place then maybe this become one less place available for renting as you would need to buy it for personal use. It is a free market and if it was viable for big business they would already be in it. The buyer has significant risk in maintaining a property and all that comes with it. A recent prospective tenant told me when I stipulated that I need sight of british passport or visa stating that they have legal permission to be in the country and other information, "all this just to rent a flat". My experience is to vet tenants personally as renters can see a property as "just another place" showing little respect without regard for the cost of the property they are entrusted with. If you want to talk about European rentals, in spain tenants have rights to a 5 year term of rental once they exceed 12 months continuous rental. What happens is landlords that do not want renters to have such lengthy legal rights simply have a fixed term agreement below 12 months and then look for new tenants. One hat does not fit all, a large company can be subject to such processes but not a micro business. So you create such long term rights for renters and suddenly you create another problem. If I want to sell up I should be able to without having to wait 5 years. Hence the reason why there were council properties subject to discount on the back of tax payers subject to different rules. I sense you do not fully understand the bigger issues and that of personal ownership hence you talk about rent controls and wanting to treat micro business like big business. As for those talking about pricing B to L completely out, you have no clue about the real world and will be a complainer all your life. There is a market for everything. A market for people on very low money who may even want to share a room in a house with their friend. should we legislate that landlords cannot permit room sharing. No rent control for micro business, market forces will prevail. Just like car manufacturers sell their cars at whatever price they deem depending on the build and quality. market forces.

It is you that does not understand "the bigger issues" Peoples lives ,jobs,schools Doctors surgeries are all disrupted because they are kicked out of there home.

It is their home while they rent not just some investment for the owner ,

If you find it so hard dealing with the human problems that come with Renting out your properties why do you Rent out at all why not invest in something other than the ability to disrupt lives?

Tenants deserve stable homes as much as anyone else when you take in a tenant you take on a responsibility not just a way of making money.

Maurice, I understand what you are saying and I put it politely and put it to you that you do not understand nor demonstrate critical thinking on this matter. From an emotional perspective you want landlords to be a sort of welfare state. It is for parliament and municipal powers to debate and provide long term housing at maybe subsidised prices to those in need and I fully support council housing and my tax money should never have been given away to people who purchased discounted council houses. You confuse fair play and my legal rights with your wishful thinking. I have supported many tenants some whom split up with their partner and now need to terminate the contract early because they cannot no longer afford the rent on their own. I supported them with allowing early termination without prosecution etc etc. Now I help because I am! but do not confuse landlords being generous etc with trying to make it a legal obligation to keep tenants housed at all cost. We are not the WELFARE STATE.

What is fair about I (a mythical tenant) paying your mortgage and you end up owning the property? 

you pay the council rent and never own the property?

oh, Antoinette, you were the one that stated previously its a simple solution. Tax out of existence B to L. If you want to talk about unfair, think big, think bigger and not micro landlords



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