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10 steps to reforming privately-rented housing: do you agree?

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Since 2011 private rents in Hackney have risen by 27%, outstripping inflation, while nationally 39% of tenants live in poverty. 

Since the 10 Steps to better private renting for tenants and landlords campaign launched in 2015, the government has partially met three of the recommendations, including agreeing to the introduction of a national ban on rogue landlords; mandatory installation of fire and carbon monoxide detectors; and action on retaliatory evictions. 

We ask that the Government implement the measures detailed below to improve renting for tenants and for landlords.

The number of privately renting households has doubled in the past decade, and in London 20% of this growth in the past two years comes from families with children.

One of the greatest threats to Hackney’s success in improving education in the borough’s schools is teachers being unable to afford to live near their work – or considering leaving London altogether.

This petition follows a review by the Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission which found that the number of privately-renting households in Hackney had doubled in the past decade, up to 32,000.

The commission was also presented with a report of evidence collected from tenants by local private renters campaign group Digs.

One anonymous case study from Hackney Wick, tells of a letting agent revaluing a home with a 50 percent rent increase: “I want to feel like I know that I can pay my rent in three months’ time because it won’t be 50 percent higher than it is at the moment. Really simple things could be to make landlords offer tenants long tenancies with limits on how much rent can rise.”

Another renter, from E5, said: “At the moment we spend 50 percent of our income on rent. We do not have central heating and electric heaters that have been installed consume electricity ravenously whilst heating ineffectively…we plan to stay here until the summer, when I will leave my teaching job and then move somewhere cheaper.”

Cllr Philip Glanville, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "A generation of people in this country are being priced out of the property market, and forced into private rented accommodation. Children and families are being uprooted every six months by insecure tenancies and beyond-inflation rent increases. There is now a clearer case than ever for fundamental reform of the private rented sector, to allow individuals and families to make secure homes for themselves.

"Everyone in Hackney and across the country deserves to live in good quality accommodation, and while the Council does what it can locally within existing legislation, and looks forward to measures currently being debated in the Deregulation Bill ending revenge evictions, we are calling on the next government to take these steps to help improve conditions both for tenants and for landlords."

In Hackney, half of privately renting tenants state that repairs not being done when needed, and the poor condition of their home, is a problem.

Local authorities do what they can within existing legislation to help ensure good standards, but along with measures in the Deregulation Bill more powers are needed from the government to ensure a fair deal both for renters and for landlords.

The government needs to take action to modernise and join up the 50 Acts of Parliament and 70 pieces of delegated legislation relating to private renting into a new bill. Ten issues it needs to include:

1. Inflation-capped rents: to ensure greater security for tenants, as well as continuity for landlords 

2. Longer tenancies: these should be offered for years, not months, giving more stability – particularly for families with children

3. Government should publish a list of convicted landlords and lettings agents: to enable renters to check those offering a property are fit to do so 

4. Fast-track licensing schemes: cut red tape for councils setting up licensing schemes to ensure high quality standards of accommodation and service

5. Pay housing benefit direct: explore further incentives for responsible landlords, including the choice for direct payments of housing benefit to accredited landlords who offer longer tenancies and stable rents

6. Create a national quality kitemark: so tenants can identify good quality accommodation

7. Public register of landlords and properties: to enable tenants to find out directly who they pay rent to and enable the Council to provide information and support to landlords who need it

8. Require lettings agents to protect paid rent and fees: mandatory protection to ensure recovery if a lettings agent goes into administration or misappropriates funds

9. Costs transparency: make it mandatory for landlords to publish related costs of a property, such as utility bills, and for lettings agents to explain all their fees

10. Improve safety: by introducing mandatory five-year electrical tests

This campaign is supported by Hackney Law Centre and Hackney CVS, an umbrella organisation for voluntary sector services in the borough. 



 



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