Michael Green is the founder of CaseHub.
Over the past six months, I have been working with some of the country’s leading barristers to put together a lawsuit that proves how most letting fees in England and Wales are unlawful.
The good news is that they agree.
We now need to take that case to court. The good news is that if it wins, renters will be entitled to get their letting fees back, and in future some of them might be stopped entirely.
Before she was fast-tracked to 10 Downing St - in one of many dramatic twists in recent weeks - Theresa May gave us a glimpse of how her housing policy might differ from David Cameron's.
Launching her leadership campaign in Birmingham on Monday, May went further than Cameron has ever done in describing the the damage that house price inflation causes:
"...unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising. Young people will find it even harder to afford their own home. The divide between those who inherit wealth and those who don’t will become more pronounced. And more and more of the country’s money will go into expensive housing instead of more productive investments that generate more economic growth."
Private tenants on the Butterfields Estate in London's Waltham Forest are facing evictions from affordable homes they have lived in for years, after they were sold on without their knowledge. Previously owned by a charitable trust that ensured tenancies were secure and affordable, the two streets of homes were bought up by a private business (BE17Ltd) at the start of this year.
There have been a huge number of articles written in the last fortnight about the future of Britain, with many focused on the potential effects on London’s economy of the country leaving the EU.
What must not be lost in these debates, though, is the focus on the structural problems that the city faced before the referendum. One of the most fundamental in recent years has been the fact that London’s housing crisis has forced many professionals out of the city.
We haven't commented on the EU referendum as a debate about the future of the country was all a bit above us. Renters are a mixed bunch and have different reasons for voting Remain or Leave.
Now that the deed is done, we're due a new Prime Minister, probably a General Election in the next year, and several years of negotiations over our relationship with Europe.
This week will mark 50 days since Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London in an election that was defined by the capital’s housing crisis. Yet since that point private renters (and indeed all Londoners hit by its failed housing system) have had to wait patiently to hear the detail within the Mayor’s commitments.
When we published our latest research on letting fees in April, we were expecting a long fight to get the issue of banning them back on the political agenda. The Housing and Planning Act, passed in May, contained no changes to the law on fees, and the only area of housing government is currently legislating on concerns planning.
We didn't have to wait for long though. Olly Grender, a Lib Dem peer, who fought for and won some protections for renters in the Housing Act, was selected to present a private member's Bill. Happily for us, she picked fees.
On 26th April, we launched a social media campaign called #ventyourrent on Twitter and Tumblr. We asked people to tell us on cardboard, a photo, or just a tweet, what they were paying in rent and what it bought them.
The plan was to get Londoners sharing their worst experiences of renting and generating some solidarity ahead of the Mayoral Election on 5th May. We hoped that seeing the posts would get people thinking about the housing market as a political issue that they could have some influence on. If they did, we had a handy guide for them.
It was the first campaign of its kind that we have attempted and we could not have done it without the energy of a crack team of volunteers*, the guidance of Paolo Gerbaudo of Kings College London, and the inspiration of Pierre-Emmanuel Lemaire, Yasmina Aoun, Cong Bi and Nicola Lotter of Central St Martin's MA Communication Design course.
It was a huge success, generating our biggest media story to date, attracting hundreds of submissions, and surely contributing at least a tiny bit to the highest ever turnout for a London Mayoral Election.
Now that the dust has settled, we decided to find out what #ventyourrent taught us.
London has a new Mayor. Sadiq Khan was elected last Thursday with 1.3m votes, the largest personal mandate for any British politician in history. That gives him a lot of clout in implementing his manifesto, whether that's dealing with local councils or the Westminster government.
Let's remind ourselves what he promised. On our Vote Homes comparison site, Sadiq came in behind the Green Party candidate Sian Berry with more amber policies (ones we felt were okay) than greens (policies we called for). And while he had fewer greens than the Lib Dem, Caroline Pidgeon, he had no policies we thought were terrible (marked red) to Caroline's two (on security and rent levels).
After months of debate and campaigning, the London Mayoral election is imminent. Despite housing being the absolute number one issue of the election, the two frontrunners have not managed to face each other to debate it.
There have been general hustings between Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith, including the Evening Standard and Centre for London debate on 21 April, where, amid heated exchanges on policing, transport and extremism, the only real look-in that housing had simply highlighted the similarities between the candidates: building ambitions, first dibs for Londoners, and refusal to build on the green belt (despite Zac’s desire to paint Sadiq as a park concreter).