Rogue landlords: Too often, enforcement schemes are about border control rather than protecting renters
London Renters Union response to the Guardian/ITV report on the failure to stop rogue landlords.
Amina Gichinga, Newham & Leytonstone organiser for London Renters Union, said:
“Private renters – people with lives and families – are paying extortionate rent only to face poor conditions with few rights or protections to fall back on. We know that banning criminal landlords isn’t working and that local licensing schemes are too weak to seriously improve conditions.
“In Newham, we know of at least one case of serial harassment – turning off electricity, holding back deposits – by a landlord licensed under the local borough scheme. The licensing scheme offered no protection against this appalling treatment. And crucially there is nothing to protect tenants from revenge evictions by landlords reported to enforcement schemes.
“The funds to tackle rogue landlords are closely linked to internal border controls. Information about properties and their occupants is passed on directly to immigration agencies. This means that the most vulnerable renters are dissuaded from reporting issues to any public authority. Too often, enforcement schemes are simply a means to expose people to border enforcement, rather than to protect renters from harassment and inhuman living conditions.
“Everyone should have access to a safe and secure home. Yet across the country, a quarter of a million families live in squalid private rented accommodation. Ultimately renters have very little bargaining power or legal redress, and landlords exploit people’s need for a home. We need bold action at every level to reset the power imbalance between landlords and renters, changes like an end to no-fault evictions and no borders in housing, rather than fiddling around the edges with weak schemes that the evidence shows are failing.”
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London Renters Union is a new campaigning union for private renters growing fast across the capital, with branches in Newham, Lewisham and Hackney. London Renters Union aims to build branches across the city so that renters can support each other, stand up to landlords, and transform the housing system through collective action.
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