This week we launched the End Unfair Evictions coalition with ACORN, London Renters Union, and New Economics Foundation. We're calling for an end to Section 21, which allows landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason.
One reason we're doing is that existing protections are not working in practice.
Back in 2014/15, we fought a hard campaign alongside Shelter, GMB Young London and others to give tenants basic protection from eviction when they complained about their landlord.
The resulting measures in the Deregulation Act 2015 stopped landlords from serving a Section 21 eviction notice to tenants if the council had found hazards in the property and served an appropriate improvement notice on the owner. This protection lasted for 6 months and was meant to give tenants more confidence in getting their landlord to fix health and safety problems, because the landlord can no longer simply retaliate by kicking them out.Read more
Landlords get to ask tenants for a reference, but there's no way we can check what a prospective landlord is like. That's why we've long been calling for a central database that names and shames criminal landlords.
From today we've got one. But there's a catch: only local councils can access it.Read more
Local council elections are taking place in London in a few months. And just like the 2016 Mayoral race, these contests will be dominated by the city's housing crisis. From Haringey to Kensington and Chelsea, Londoners are looking for secure and affordable homes, and asking their councils to respond.Read more
Today the government announced a raft of measures that will be in the Housing Bill that being is being prepared for Parliament later this year.
Sadly much of the focus was on the extension of the duty to all landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. We’ve already expressed our opposition to this policy elsewhere, but it is particularly galling that this is being taken forward when there has been no public analysis of the West Midlands ‘pilot scheme’, and other groups have seen cases of it increasing discrimination in lettings.
Despite this policy dominating the headlines, though, the Department for Communities and Local Government has also announced more welcome plans to improve the systems for tackling rogue landlords.Read more
Bournemouth Borough Council is to debate on Monday a plan to buy up properties in the town to house homeless families - a practice that is already happening in the London boroughs of Enfield and Westminster.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to house homeless people in temporary and emergency accommodation. Because they have no available properties of their own they often have to turn to bed and breakfasts to put families up. Councillor Robert Lawton explains:
"It will help us to reduce costs, for example, avoiding the use of expensive B&B accommodation. By owning the properties, it would mean that the council would be able to ensure the properties are good quality and well managed. In the longer term, any income generated and increase in property values would come back to the council to help fund additional services for vulnerable people."Read more
Our friends at Kensington and Chelsea Social Council are undertaking a project to look at the issues affecting private tenants in the borough - particularly in the clear lack of affordable housing in the private sector. Part of this is an online survey that they're asking all private renters in the area to complete.
In the run-up to the London Mayoral elections, work like this is vital to help support renters across the capital and make sure no one is priced out of London - wherever they live or work.Read more
There has been some positive news for renters for a change! It was announced by the Minister for Fire Resilience and Emergencies, Penny Mordaunt, at the Local Government Association fire conference, that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are to become mandatory in all privately rented accommodation. These life-saving regulations will be laid before Parliament and will require all private sector landlords to install smoke alarms on each storey of their property, carbon monoxide alarms in the rooms considered most at risk from high levels of carbon monoxide and to check the alarms are in working order at the start of any new tenancy.Read more
Do you rent from a private landlord in Hackney? If so, this blog post is for you! Hackney Council are currently conducting a consultation into the private rented sector in Hackney, reviewing their offer of services for tenants and landlords. As part of this, the council is considering whether a discretionary licensing scheme might be introduced.Read more
The London Borough of Islington has fined a landlord £280,000 for defying orders to rip down insubstantial housing built without permission in an outbuilding.
It's good to see a London council getting tough on landlords who flout planning law to the detriment of their tenants. Too often we see local authorities not taking action when there is a breach of planning law, or being thwarted by the four-year dwelling rule which exempts the landlord if the dwelling has been continuously occupied for four years.
Islington Council has shown that you can forcefully take on those who are ignoring planning regulations with the right political will. This is as much an issue of ensuring that tenants live in decent, spacious and well-kept properties as it is simply a planning dispute and Islington has recognised this in the work it is doing in the private rented sector.
And that colossal fine could go towards building some real houses.