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Renters’ get new Tower Hamlets charter to tackle East End’s rogue landlords

PUBLISHED: 13:18 05 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:39 05 October 2016

Renters campaign lobbying Tower Hamlets council in 2015

Renters campaign lobbying Tower Hamlets council in 2015

Archant

Tenants have won their fight for a renters’ charter to tackle rogue landlords after campaigning to stop unlawful evictions and unscrupulous registration fees in London’s East End.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John BiggsTower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs

A Landlord Licensing Scheme aimed at raising properties standards came into force on Saturday in a pilot scheme in neighbourhoods bordering the City after two years of campaigning by renters lobbying Tower Hamlets Council to get a fair deal.

“This licensing scheme will crack down on rogue landlords,” Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs pledged.

“It gives a safety net for renters and helps drive up standards. “We want to make sure renters are not taken advantage of.”

The scheme requires all rented properties closest to central London—around Whitechapel, Spitalfields and part of Bethnal Green—to be licensed by the Town Hall.

Tower Hamlets Deputy Mayor Siraj IslamTower Hamlets Deputy Mayor Siraj Islam

The council wants to use the scheme to tackle poor housing standards, anti-social behaviour and to help improve rented accommodation management.

The area chosen for the scheme is where most rented accommodation in the East End is found, closest to the City, where all private landlords are now required to register before a property can be rented out.

Deputy Mayor Sirajul Islam warned: “It is important landlords are aware of their responsibilities. This scheme will lead to long-term stable tenancies, which will benefit landlords and tenants.”

The renters also led a campaign earlier this year against exorbitant fees being charged by lettings agents before they could even move in, having to pay up to £900 for two people to get even a basic property.

Renters' lobby organiser Glenn McMahonRenters' lobby organiser Glenn McMahon

Renters campaign co-ordinator Glenn McMahon said at the time: “We are paying well over half our income on rent.

“Having to fork out exorbitant fees to agents can force many people to borrow or cut back on basics just to put a roof over their head. They could also find themselves doing it again six months later if their contract isn’t renewed.”

The council launched its Private Landlords register after declaring that it would clamp down on agents not displaying fees when new government regulations came in last year. The licensing scheme was introduced after public consultations with tenants, landlords, letting agents, businesses and other groups in March and June.

Renters up till now have lacked protection most council and housing association tenants enjoy and could be evicted on a whim.

Some were being thrown out for merely complaining about lack of repairs or maintenance.

A list of licensed landlords is being displayed on the Tower Hamlets council website where landlords can also apply for a licence.

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