Cambridge House supports Sir Robin Wales’ plea to government to support Newham Council’s bid to continue their scheme which is cracking down on rogue landlords.
Our Safer Renting project sees the human toll of landlord offending through our work on the frontline with London councils’ residential licensing schemes. Families with children are being locked out of their homes and their belongings destroyed, they share toilets, shower and kitchen with complete strangers, and face daily danger from fire, electrocution, cold, damp, and infection from pest infestation.
All of this is heartbreaking to witness: consider also that this abuse doesn’t come cheap. Even rents on such death-trap properties are increasingly beyond the reach of people on average incomes, as more than two-thirds of the Capital is now unaffordable to people on less than £30,000 a year.
This is because, ultimately, landlord offending is about money; people are exploiting the lack of enforcement and high housing demand to extract huge sums in return for dangerous housing that is unfit for human habitation. Our work enables tenants to use the law to protect themselves against illegal eviction and against landlords who don’t repair their properties. But even with our support tenants often suffer because they have no rights against landlords who construct and let out substandard homes like the “beds in sheds” so common in boroughs such as Newham.
All this could be changed if MPs support Karen Buck MP’s Private Members’ Bill ‘Homes (Fitness for Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards)’ now going back before Parliament. The Bill was shamefully voted down last year because many landlord MPs voting against measures ensuring that privately rented homes are fit for human habitation.
Karen Buck’s Bill is desperately needed to strengthen tenants’ rights. Supported by increase resources for local authority enforcement, the bill could enable the worst abuse to be stamped out through licensing schemes and services such as Safer Renting that provide tenancy rights advocacy to protect victims and deter landlord offending.