Tower Hamlets now has more people living in the private rented sector than in any other kind of housing. It’s not surprising, then, that John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, has decided to launch a major initiative designed to improve conditions in the sector.
The borough’s Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations has welcomed the move. Federation Chair Phil Sedler explained, “There are some good landlords in Tower Hamlets, but there are also many substandard landlords and some downright dreadful ones. No one should have to live in bad housing, and there is no doubt that the Mayor’s initiative is long overdue.”
Most of the TRAs affiliated to the Federation are active on social housing estates. Nowadays, however, between 25% and 50% of the properties on a typical social housing estate will have been bought under “right to buy”. A large number of these are let out by the leaseholder – which means that private renters are scattered throughout our social housing estates.
“We need a change in government policy to make private renting more secure,” explained Phil Sedler. “This would reduce the turnover of private tenants, which would help to keep our communities more stable and reduce the incidence of Anti-Social Behaviour. Anything the Council can do to help achieve this would be very welcome.”
It’s not only private renters themselves who have an interest in conditions in the private sector. More and more social housing is being sold off – and it’s not being replaced. The next generation are having to look to the private sector for rented homes. People who live in social housing now will find that their younger relatives will live or at least spend time in the private rented accommodation – so we all have an interest in ensuring these properties are in good condition and well run.
To start improving matters, the Federation is encouraging all residents to complete the survey – which is the first step of the Council’s attempt to improve conditions for private tenants.