Focus suddenly on private tenants

Last Thursday evening, I attended a meeting held by The Camden Federation of Private Tenants (CFPT) in Swiss Cottage Library (an old haunt of mine, where l did my A levels).  Now, anyone who knows anything about housing in central London, will be aware, how ignored this particular sector of private tenants are.  However as the issue of caps on levels of Housing Benefit continue to rumble on in London, suddenly, this sector of housing provision has been thrown into the spot light..
The emergency budget in June, proposed putting a cap on the maximum Local Housing Allowance (LHA) of 30% of the median, locally. So, the maximum LHA for a 4 bed dwelling in Camden will be £400 per week and £250 for a one bed.  These measures have been introduced on the back of a handful of abuses of the system highlighted in the press and not any measured and calm debate about the system and the changes it really needs or the potential impact on the area set to be affected the most – London.
Those in favour have suggested that landlords would absorb these reductions, however, a survey of landlord’s responses to these changes by The London Council suggests otherwise. ( )  This survey states that 60% of landlords said they would not lower the rent by any amount if the tenant could not pay their rent in full.  Even more worryingly, if the shortfall in rent is over £20 per week, almost all landlords said they would evict the tenant or not renew the tenancy at the end of the period, and over a quarter of them said they would decrease the number of properties made available to those in receipt of housing benefit, all of which would serve to accentuate the problem, reduce supply and increase rents further.  London Councils estimate that the net result of these changes would be that some 82,000 households in the capital could lose their homes.
Some members of the audience were in favour of rent controls being extended further throughout the sector.  As it happens, Ken has also come out in favour of such rent control extension, reminiscent of the era when rent officers at the local housing benefit office had powers to determine rent levels locally (’ll-cap-private-rents/6511873.article) as a means for the treasury keeping a grip on housing benefit and households claiming it. 
The LHA was not the only issue that dominated the evening, as the discussion moved onto the issue of Crown Estate sell offs in central London, particularly Cumberland Market which again are a threat to security of tenure for tenants.
All of this, set against a backdrop from the biggest threat to security of tenure for council tenants, which was made by the PM, when he suggested that it should no longer be regarded as a right for life.  Not forgetting, the unaccountability of the many “not so social” Housing Associations in London which have become the favoured agents for solving the social housing conundrum, all of which make for a very uneven playing field for council and housing association tenants who face an uncertain future.
Luckily, there are at least, organisations out there like CFPT which do an excellent job of representing private tenants.  CFPT represent tenants not only in Camden but also in other boroughs in central London like the City of Westminster and Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea making them a very deserving candidate for Londonwide funding and not just from within Camden.  l’ll certainly be keeping in touch with them, so long may their campaigning and representation work continue
This is one which won’t go away in these austere times. So watch this space!  

One thought on “Focus suddenly on private tenants

  1. Meg McDonald

    I was at that meeting and made many comments about how private protected tenants who have their rent increased 5% +RPI every 2 yrs regardless of any improvements by the landlords are in a fearful situation.This is an exponential increase every 2 years and soon Housing Benefit will not cover our rents and we will be rendered homeless. We are harassed by our landlords and live in sub standard accommodation.A lot of us are women over 60 and most over 70.We couldn’t get mortgages,either as single,divorced or professional women because of discrimination.As a divorced teacher bringing up a family no-one would give me a mortgage to buy my own home.Many of us live in these properties because of this. We cannot have our homes brought up to the decent homes standard because that standard does not apply to private protected tenants.If the EHO’s force the landlords to do minimal repairs to provide is with some improvement then our landlords apply for a rent increase which goes beyond the rent cap.Thus most older tenants are teriified of being homeless and opt not to have the improvement,choosing to live in sub-standard accommodation.
    This is no way to live with no quality of life.
    Most of these properties have,old appliances,old kitchens,no proper heating(using old heaters with no central heating) and other outmoded items.
    We seem to unfortunately live in the most sort after areas to live eg RBK&C,Westminster,Camden,Hammersmith and Fulham..
    We are never considered and a lot of the older less able tenants do not feel empowered to tackle their landlords so live in a scared deprived state.Some are not aware of their rights and if they are,have little money to take these landlords to court because of harassment
    Harassment also means living in a state of disrepair,a category 1 cold hazard,a safety hazard and so on as well as intimidation and abuse from landlords.You will find many private protected tenants living in these conditions.I am in just such a position being harassed by my landlord.
    The media tries to make out that we all pay low rents,this is not the case. In fact we probably have paid for our flats by now in rent since most of us have lived for such a long time in our homes.With mortgages,we could have bought our own homes by now and be enjoying a reasonable standard of life but were never allowed the right.
    I hope that these comments will be passed on to someone who can help.


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