London’s Rogue Landlord Checker set up using Tower Hamlets renters’ charter cases against estate agents
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A pioneering renters’ charter tackling rogue landlords in the East End is going London-wide.
Tower Hamlets has become the first London borough to contribute to City Hall’s rogue landlord checker to safeguard private renters.
A new database has been set up by the Mayor of London using Tower Hamlets Council prosecutions on landlords and letting agents convicted of bad housing offences.
A £35,000 enforcement fine on Foxton’s estate agents is currently the biggest on the new ‘hit list’.
The firm was prosecuted by Tower Hamlets for failing to give correct documentation about gas and fire safety on property let in Whitechapel. The lettings agency, with its branches in Spitalfields, Canary Wharf and Wapping, is now changing its practices on lettings fees across London as a result of the action.
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“Dodgy landlords should get the message that we won’t tolerate bad behaviour,” Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said. “We have safeguards to protect renters and will take action against landlords who flout the law, between our charter and the Mayor of London’s checker.”
The council’s Renters’ Charter started last summer is being used as a template for the Rogue Landlord Checker aimed at tackling London’s bad landlord crisis. Tower Hamlets deputy mayor Sirajul Islam said: “Pressures from our fastest-growing population can never be an excuse for landlords or agents cutting corners or failing to meets legal housing requirements. We will enforce against landlords who are happy to charge high rents without taking their responsibilities seriously.”
The Landlord Licensing pilot scheme was started in 2017 in Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Shoreditch after a two-year renters campaign which began by lobbying the town hall. Private tenants won their fight for a charter after campaigning to stop unlawful evictions and exorbitant registration fees by lettings agents before they could even move in, some having to pay up to £900 for two people just to get even a basic property.
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Campaign coordinator Glenn McMahon said at the time: “We are paying over half our income on rent and forking out exorbitant fees which can force many people to borrow or cut back on basics just to put a roof over their head.”
Renters lacked protection and could be evicted on a whim. Some were being thrown out for merely complaining about lack of repairs or maintenance.
Another council prosecution this year listed on the London Checker is against two landlords of flats at Clifton House on the famous Grade II-listed Boundary Estate in Shoreditch. They left tenants at risk of fire, failed to repair serious leaks and operated without a landlord licence. They were fined £13,300 by Thames magistrates in March on 11 offences.