Acall for the foundation of an independent association to represent the capital’s tenants has followed the findings of a report on the state of the rental sector. London Assembly Member Sian Berry has published What Are London Renters Thinking? drawing on the results of her survey of the city’s private tenants, asking the Mayor Of London to support the creation of such a group.
While respondents were self-selection she said the study “laid bare the scale of dissatisfaction among London’s renters, over a range of areas including rocketing rent costs, incomplete repairs, lost deposits and fear of losing their homes at the end of each annual contract”.
It revealed more than 90% of tenants taking part had experienced four or more serious problems during their time renting in the capital. It also found six out of 10 would be prepared to pay a small fee to join a London-wide organisation that helped them in these ways.
Sian, who belongs to the Green Party, said: “As a renter in London for nearly 20 years, it’s important to me that I keep bringing the voices of London’s 2.3million private renters into City Hall.
“In this report I’m recommending the Mayor Of London stands up for the city’s private renters and supports them in standing up for themselves.
“The willingness of renters to pay a small fee to join a renters’ organisation is very significant, as it means such a group could become self-sustaining once it has been set up.
“The Mayor should look seriously at providing practical help such as office space and seed funding to help found an independent London-wide organisation to represent renters in our city.”
The report also revealed living in east London boroughs was comparatively expensive with residents in Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Barking And Dagenham spending an average of 45% of their net income on rent.
In addition, 42% of tenants in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking And Dagenham reported having problems getting their deposits back off their landlord, significantly higher than the London average of 34%.
Sian is also calling for more support at the London-wide level for renters, including a central information source with links to existing renter’s groups and council schemes.
In addition to this, she wants the Mayor to push the Government to devolve more powers over housing to London.
The survey covered responses from 1,530 people – 78% from those currently renting. The most common problems experienced by tenants were to do with repairs and maintenance (75%), closely followed by concerns over health due to damp and mould (64%).
Next were problems getting deposits back (52%) and issues around being made to move out (43%).
The survey found one in five renters had been made homeless or forced to stay with friends after being forced to leave a rental home.
Around 13% had experienced temporary homelessness in the past three years.
Sian said: “This is a very worrying finding. While many are lucky to be able to stay with friends for short periods, the ability to afford a spare room is increasingly uncommon among private renters.”
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