Protecting the renters
07 September, 2018
• THE number of people privately renting in Islington has risen significantly over the past few years. At the same time, rents and deposits have soared and renters risk being hit by rip-off letting fees. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitative letting agents and landlords.
Islington Labour has repeatedly urged the Tory government to give private renters better rights. That is why I have written to the housing minister, along with 18 London Labour cabinet members for housing, to urge him to strengthen the Tenant Fees Bill.
The government promised that the bill will cap deposits and ban rip-off letting fees. However, the draft bill has been significantly watered down and will fail to protect private renters.
Renters could end up paying even more in fees, thanks to a loophole that enables letting agents to charge for basic services across an entire tenancy, rather than upfront.
The government promised to cap deposits at four weeks’ rent, but this has increased to six weeks in the draft bill. No organisation representing private renters has supported this cap, which is why we are urging the government to set it at three weeks.
Islington Council has led the fight against exploitative landlords and letting agents. We have been responsible for two-thirds of total fines issued by London councils to rogue landlords since new enforcement measures in 2015.
However, the government must strengthen the Tenant Fees Bill so we can impose greater fines for letting agents who charge illegal fees.
The loss of a private tenancy remains the single biggest cause of homelessness. We cannot wait any longer for action on rip-off fees and for stronger rights for private renters, particularly in areas like Islington where the cost of private renting is cripplingly high.
Only Labour is standing up for private renters. We will continue to urge the government to legislate banning letting agency fees, give renters new consumer rights and implement controls on rent.
Cllr DIARMAID WARD
Labour executive member for housing and development, Islington Council