Thank you @EmmaReynoldsMP for visiting Islington to see the new council homes we're building
You couldn't open the doors under the hob because there was a bed in the way. That's the reality behind a 'modern studio apartment' near Kings Cross, in the borough where I'm a councillor, that was recently being advertised for £175 a week.
It's a grim expression of London's housing crisis that this tiny bedsit was being advertised for such a huge price. And it's a grim reminder of how desperate tenants are that it got snapped up almost immediately. We were able to go in and slap an order on this flat – and others in the block as well – to prevent them from being rented out again. They were too tiny for people to live in; we have to draw the line somewhere.
And although the flats in this block came into the spotlight, they will be far from the only ones that are not fit for purpose. That's why, following our election victory in May, we started collecting the evidence we need to to introduce landlord licensing across an area that would cover the flats in the block and many others like them.
People are fed up with rogue landlords – and they're fed up with rip-off letting agents too. We want to do what we can to tame this Wild West, and so alongside legal action against the worst letting agents, we're also working on our own council-run lettings agency.
When we set up this public alternative, we'll be able to offer tenancies with responsible landlords and no fees.
But to truly make private renting fit for purpose we need national change. It's a change that is long overdue; private tenants in London are exceptionally badly looked after. Across Europe, and even in some U.S. cities, limits on rents and their increases are commonplace, with renters routinely having the right to longer-term tenancies.
In London though, we have a Mayor who is allergic to any change that he would claim 'interferes' with the market. Nationally we have a government who seem intent on a race to the bottom, as they unravel protections for social tenants rather than improving the rights of people who rent privately.
And so London's private renters need us to win power so we can make a reality of Ed Miliband's pledge for limits on rent rises and the right to three-year tenancies. Putting this commitment into practice will start to change private renting in this city – it will start to move us in a different direction than London's been headed for a generation.
By being bold, we can stand up for people looking for somewhere to live that's affordable, decent, and secure. We can show people that the worsening of London's housing crisis doesn't have to be inevitable.
Cllr James Murray
Cabinet Member for Housing, London Borough of Islington.
Thank you @EmmaReynoldsMP for visiting Islington to see the new council homes we're building You couldn't open the doors under the hob because there was a bed in the...