Our latest research into the experiences of private renters in the London borough of Tower Hamlets has revealed that local private renters struggle with affordability, standards and disrepair in their homes, as well as understanding tha utilising their rights as renters.
The small survey of local private renters offers a snapshot into the experiences of tenants in the borough:
- Participants ranked rent increases as the biggest issue they have experienced as a renter.
- The majority (58.3%) of respondents reported experiencing mould or damp in the past five years before completing the survey.
- Nearly half (47.7%) of respondents who reported their most recent repair issue stated that their landlord or letting agent had not fixed the problem.
- Almost two thirds (64.6%) of respondents were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the possibility of their landlord asking them to move.
- Almost a quarter (23.4%) had faced a landlord who turned up at their property without their permission.
Participants were given seven issues and asked to rank them in order of priority. Affordability issues were ranked highest, with “rent increases” the highest priority and “affording the monthly rent” the second highest priority. This was followed by “struggling to more into home ownership”.
Standards and repairs
The majority of respondents had experienced mould or damp (58.3%).
One respondent described their experience with mould: “I have rented several places in the past with issues to mould and in one instance I was left to do all repairs with no compensation and the other instant nothing was done. I developed bad asthma as a result and couldn’t breathe properly the entire time I lived there.”
Over 2 in 5 (41.7%) had experienced heating and hot water not working as well as problems with storage of rubbish outside the property. Nearly 2 in 5 meanwhile had experienced leaks and draughts (39.6%) as well as a general lack of maintenance of the property and common areas (39.6%).
Around a third of respondents had experienced an infestation (29.2%) and nearly a quarter of respondents had experienced faulty electrics (22.9%).
A second respondent wrote: “For hot water issues they would usually let us know before I was affected and fix it promptly. But we had issues with our lift for a long time now and they still haven’t managed to fix it.”
Knowledge of rights
The majority (54.2%) of respondents stated that they were “very” or “fairly” confident about their rights as tenants. However, less than 3 in 10 knew that the local authority can support tenants in cases of harassment, and only a fifth knew that they can support renters living in homes with a poor energy efficiency rating. This suggests that there could be a gap between tenants’ confidence in their knowledge of their rights and their actual knowledge of their rights.
The vast majority (84.2%) of all respondents would welcome more information from their local council about their rights and responsibility as a tenant.
What does this mean?
Private renters in Tower Hamlets, and indeed everywhere, deserve a safe, secure and affordable home. In order for this to be achieved, a combination of effective enforcement from local councils, national legislation, and renters’ awareness of their rights is required.
It is concerning that this snippet into renting in the London borough reveals that local renters often struggle in finding somewhere affordable to rent and with issues surrounding poor conditions and disrepair.
The upcoming Renters (Reform) Bill is a huge opportunity in improving the lives of private renters across England. But, as well as these reforms, local councils can, and do, perform an integral role in supporting and protecting local renters.
We will work with Tower Hamlets to ensure that the recommendations from the report are implemented and that private renters in the borough receive the support they need.
Read the full report here.