Whitechapel public meeting telling renters their rights to be addressed by Tower Hamlets’ mayor
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 December 2017
A public meeting for renters to know their legal rights is being held in Whitechapel on Monday as part of a long-running campaign to protect private tenants from rogue landlords.
The campaign continues following the launch of the Renters’ Charter by Tower Hamlets Council in July.
“Some landlords are abusing the system,” Mayor John Biggs warned. “My message to them is that we’ll come for them if they break the rules. More people are in the private rented sector, often with several people living in one household. But we are committed to drive up standards to ensure a fair deal for renters.’’
Monday’s meeting starting 5.30pm is at the East London Mosque’s Maryam centre at 45 Fieldgate Street. The Mayor and his deputy both plan to address the meeting, while council staff are there to give information on tenants’ rights and to answer questions.
The Renters’ Charter was set up by the mayor to make sure private tenants know their legal rights and get protection against rogue landlords, illegal evictions and dangerous conditions.
It demands fair terms with no rent rise during fixed tenancy period, no “hidden surprises”, making sure annual gas safety checks are carried out and having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed. It also demands “homes free from damp and mould”.
Deputy Mayor Siraj Islam, the council’s Cabinet member for housing, said: “We have a large and growing population. But the pressures on private housing can never be an excuse for agents and landlords to avoid their legal responsibilities, or failing to treat tenants with respect.”
The charter follows the council’s Landlord Registration scheme set up last year covering a large swathe of Spitalfields, Whitechapel and Bethnal Green, after renters lobbied the town hall protesting at lack of tenancy security and exorbitant letting agents’ fees.
Campaign coordinator Glenn McMahon said at the time: “Forking out exorbitant fees to agents forces many people to borrow or cut back on basics like food, just to put a roof over their head.”
Renters were facing indiscriminate evictions on a landlord’s whim, usually for complaining about lack of repairs or maintenance and in one case a complaint about dangerous structure.
Private renting has reached 46,000, or 40 per cent of Tower Hamlets properties, having overtaken the 36pc council and social housing, with the population influx set to rise by another 74,000 in the next decade.