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Tackling the London Housing Crisis

  Under David Cameron and Nick Clegg, London is in the grip of a desperate housing crisis. House building has fallen to the lowest levels since the 1920s. As a...



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JamesMurrayHousingphoto.jpg

Thank you 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.

London's private renters need change

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...

PhilipGlanville.JPGThe private rental sector in Hackney has been in the news recently, with the Mirror rightly highlighting the damaging impact rent rises are having on private tenants on a Hoxton estate. But these tenants are not alone and without better regulation, Hackney’s and London’s social diversity and economy will be at risk.

Renting privately is something I know well, as for the last 11 years I’ve been in Hackney I’ve lived in rented flats. I’ve paid the endless fees, dealt with sharp letting agents and fought to limit the annual attempts to increase my rent by 10% or more. Now I’ve been lucky, I’ve broadly had good landlords, had the time and skills to argue my corner and not had to fight to get repairs done. But others I know have not been so lucky facing intimidation, high rents, poor quality housing, exploitation and evictions.

 

In Hackney, private rents last year according to the GLA went up by 10%, with three and four bedroom properties seeing the highest rises of 15% and 17% respectively. This unregulated rise makes more of the borough unaffordable, increases the housing benefit bill and because of Tories’ Orwellian ‘Affordable Rent’ programme now has an impact on rents in some new social housing. As a Labour Party in Hackney, I am proud that we have worked with Digs a Hackney private renters’ campaign group to improve the information we provide on private renting and the service we offer tenants who need to complain about rogue landlords.

 

We found that housing was the number one issue in the local elections and in our 2014 manifesto we set how we would respond to some of these challenges: by setting up a Council backed social lettings agency; exploring how we can introduce a borough wide landlord licensing scheme; and by doing all we can to drive rogue landlords and letting agents out of the borough. But to really have an impact on high rents, the uncertainty created by short tenancies and end rip-off fees we need to campaign for a Labour Government and a Labour Mayor of London.

 

Recently Ed Miliband and Emma Reynolds showed that Labour is listening. For the first time, we now have a Leader and Shadow Housing Minister focusing on the problems faced by private tenants. Their promise to introduce longer tenancies, end letting agent rip off fees and stabilise rent rises is something worth fighting for and we need to campaign with Londoners to ensure we win.

 

We know where the Tories stand and that is with the landlords and speculators, alongside the Lib Dems they have frustrated attempts to regulate the private rental sector. Recently we saw London MPs taking the fight to the Government in Parliament, but as a London Labour Party we need to get out there and speak up for generation rent, a generation that before now has struggled to find a political voice. Labour are the only party offering hope to private tenants when we say we will tackle high rents, high fees, introduce real regulation and increase the supply of all types housing, but we can only clean up this failing market if we fight to win next May.

 

Councillor Philip Glanville

Hackney Labour Cabinet Member for Housing

 

Hackney Labour - on the side of struggling renters

The private rental sector in Hackney has been in the news recently, with the Mirror rightly highlighting the damaging impact rent rises are having on private tenants on a Hoxton...

Alison_picture.jpgLess than four weeks into a new Labour Council, Croydon Labour is proud that one of their first papers at their first cabinet meeting was to agree to go to consultation on proposals to introduce a private rented sector licensing scheme, to improve conditions for tenants and to benefit the best of landlords.

The scheme was a key commitment in our ‘Ambitious for Croydon’ manifesto and has been warmly welcomed on the doorstep both by tenants and by those residents whose lives are blighted by poorly managed properties on their streets.

Croydon Labour recognises that private rented accommodation will have a vital part to play in providing housing in the borough.  However, while we have many excellent landlords, there are some who rent out accommodation that is not fit to live in and who fail to manage their properties, leaving the council to pick up the tab.  This causes distress to the tenants and affects the lives of others. 

We are also aware that the high turnover of poorly kept accommodation adds to the fly-tipping epidemic currently affecting our borough. We are determined that Croydon will be a clean and green borough and this scheme will be part of making that happen.  The scheme will also drive up standards in the private rented sector and provide the council with more powers to tackle landlords who allow their tenants to cause a nuisance.

Our housing policy is not just about putting a roof over people’s heads.  It is about giving our children the best start in life, by tackling inequality and poverty, and by increasing life chances and improving health. 

Ed Miliband has recognised the plight of thousands of families living in the private rented sector and his plans to introduce 3 year tenancies and to ban the crippling fees, often charged by lettings agents to tenants, will improve the lives of hundreds of families living in Croydon. 

Cllr Alison Butler

Cabinet Member for Homes & Regeneration - Croydon

Tackling Croydon's Housing Crisis

Less than four weeks into a new Labour Council, Croydon Labour is proud that one of their first papers at their first cabinet meeting was to agree to go to...

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