Safer Renting provides specialist advice, advocacy and support to vulnerable private rented sector tenants and victims of criminal landlords.
The objectives of Safer Renting are:
- Preventing homelessness, particularly by intervening in illegal evictions
- Supporting private renters to negotiate better conditions in their homes
- Enabling private renters to leave a criminal landlord on their own terms, wherever possible with compensation from the landlord
- Analysing and communicating how criminal landlords are exploiting the London housing crisis at the expense of tenants
Safer Renting is the only service of its kind, and our 2016 pilot showed us just how great the need for support for private tenants is. The service fills a critical gap in support that has emerged in London thanks to the housing crisis and cuts to welfare and services.
The project is currently working in four Boroughs (Croydon, Enfield, Hounslow, and Waltham Forest).
Why Safer Renting is Needed
Rising house prices and reductions in social housing have meant that London’s private rented sector has grown significantly, with more than a quarter of Londoners now renting privately. Renters are no longer mostly single individuals who value flexibility (e.g. students) – instead, a third of renting households are families with children. Very few of these households rent by choice: low incomes limit their options and their circumstances rule out the increasingly scarce social housing options. Unsurprisingly, private rental has become the most common form of tenure for individuals and families in poverty. Increasing numbers end up in ‘slum rental’ accommodation provided by criminal landlords, or become at risk of homelessness. Sadly, the ending of a private tenancy has become the leading cause of homelessness, accounting for 41% of all homelessness cases in London.
Currently little is being done to directly to support vulnerable private tenants. There have been some efforts to deal with part of the problem: criminal landlords. There has been more enforcement action by local authorities, backed up by measures in the recent Housing and Planning Act. However, enforcement sometimes leads to the bruising experience of a homelessness application to the local authority, and more often leaves people to find alternative accommodation without any support. Little information is available on what happens to them; some become street homeless while others end up back in slum rental accommodation.
Safer Renting works to fill this gap and protect tenants who are victimised by criminal landlords or negatively affected by enforcement action.
We are keen to talk to new potential partner boroughs and/or community organisations, particularly in those boroughs operating a Discretionary HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) Licensing Scheme. If your borough/organisation would like to learn more about Safer Renting, please get in touch with the Project Director on the contact details below.
Contact: Roz Spencer, Project Director
Mob: 07905 348971