Category Archives: Actions

TH Renters to send council list of letting agents not displaying fees as law requires

agent protest wideshot

Clarke & Lloyds, off Brick Lane, doesn’t display its fees

TH Renters is to send TH Council a list of 35 letting agents not displaying their fees online, as the law requires, after completing a research programme with Generation Rent.

The agents will be subject to a £5,000 fine if the council pursues them. From May last year agents are obliged to clearly display their fees both online and in their offices so potential tenants know in advance what they can expect to pay.

Previously agents that hid charges could only be named and shamed by the Advertisement Standards Authority. The Government said the new law will “require letting agents to publish a full tariff of their fees both on their websites and prominently in their offices. Anyone who does not comply with these new rules will face a fine.”

35 agents storyHowever, ten months later many are still not doing so either through ignorance or maybe they have something to hide. Our research found agents charging fees of up to £900 for two people to rent a property and up to £762 for someone renting alone. It’s possible some of the 35, which failed to publish their fees, are charging even more.

On Saturday, 20th Feb, TH Renters paid a visit to some of the guilty agents to hand them a mock fine before protesting outside and handing out leaflets to passers-by.

We hope renters will demand to see agents’ fees up front and inform us or the council where they’re not.

£5000 fine certificate

TH Renters kindly warned a few TH letting agents about the law before shopping them to the council on Monday

 

 

Letting agents and their fees targeted by TH Renters

nelly agent midshot cropTH Renters targeted a series of letting agents today over their extortionate fees and failure to display them as the law requires.

We first visited Spencer’s Property on Bethnal Green Road and handed them a certificate for being the most expensive agent in TH – outside the oligarchy of Canary Wharf.

Spencer’s charge a whopping £742 in admin and reference fees for two people to rent one of their properties, and an even stiffer £521 for one person renting alone

With a months rent and deposit demanded up front that means renters have to find around £2,000 before moving into one of their cheaper properties.

We then held a protest outside handing out leaflets and explaining the action to passers by. The action was carried out after we completed a research project with Generation Rent, which along with Shelter and ourselves, is calling for agent fees to be banned altogether.

stuck with us crop

From our leaflet for passers-by

For the average Londoner the additional cost in fees can leave renters having to borrow money or go without the basics simply to put a roof over their head.

The worst offender in Tower Hamlets is Skampi that operates out of an off-street office in Canary Wharf and charges £900 in fees for two people to rent a property, although Vanet Property Management, also in Canary Wharf, shamelessly demands £762 in fees for one person renting alone.

TH Renters would like to see tenant fees banned as they are in Scotland, which has been successfully enforced since 2012.

spencers certifcate-page

TH Council commits to Feb 2016 Licensing decision

licensing demo 1

TH Council said last night it would decide on whether to implement a landlord licensing scheme in February 2016, however it’s still not clear what scheme they plan to adopt and how effective it will be.

TH Renters has been calling for the introduction of licensing, which provides councils with the resources to inspect properties and prosecute landlords in breach of basic conditions, for years.

Newham has been successfully operating licensing since 2013 and prosecutes more landlords than the rest of London put together.

To be licensed landlords must also pass a fit-and-proper person test meaning those found guilty of housing law violations, fraud or sexual, violent or organised crimes would be banned from acting as a landlord and would have to transfer the management of their property to a reputable agent.

However, the concern is TH Council only plan to introduce Selective licensing, which can only be applied to 20% of a borough (after the coalition government changed the law in April) – unless the case can be proved to the secretary of state to make it borough-wide.

So TH Renters would like the Council to introduce Additional licensing, which has no restrictions and so can be borough-wide, alongside Selective – as they did in Newham.

Additional licensing requires every property let to mixed households (ie where everyone in the property is not related, also know as ‘houses of multiple occupation’ or HMO) must be licensed.

The net result being that a far higher percentage of private landlords would be licensed than would be if only Selective was introduced to 20% of the borough.

The Feb 2016 announcement was made after TH Renter Michael James asked a question to new cabinet member for housing Sirajul Islam at Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Open day & protest against last TUSH co-op family’s eviction: Weds, TH Town Hall, 6-7pm

John, Angelus and Mike hope the council doesn't split the family up

John, Angelus and Mike hope the council doesn’t split the family up and force Angelus into an old people’s institution

Please join TUSH housing co-op this Wednesday evening to protest against TH Council’s decision to evict them from their Bow home of 17-years.

The council has decided it wants to kick out the three friends – Angelus, John and Mike – and spend £150,000 doing it up before renting it out – and risk losing it to right-to-buy or selling it on.

Octogenarian Angelus has lived in the Bruce Road co-op for 30-years and relies on his friends for support and friendship. The council say he should be in sheltered housing. Angelus says it will be like being sent to prison to wait to die.BAMBI dog pic

John, who grew up in the area, has lived at the property for 17-years with his dogs and apart from being split up from his friends will be forced to give up his beloved dog Bambi as both private accommodation and housing associations won’t accept pets.

POLOMike, who has also lived in Bruce Road for many years with his pet dog Polo, has already been forced out of one former TUSH property when the council tricked him into moving out to do some work under the belief he could move back. The council deemed the best use of the property – along with a number others – would be to let it sit empty for nearly five years rather than let people move back in.

The council proposes they all move into one bedroom homes, which is odd given the shortage of housing and the inefficient use of stock that would be. Meanwhile the council is proposing wasting £150,000 on doing the property up despite its shortage of cash and John having spent years renovating and maintaining the property, which the friends are all happy to live in as it is.

The TUSH house sharing co-op was set up 35-years ago when the council had neither the money or the will to renovate seven derelict properties. The original members began renovating and maintaining them and lived there and getting involved in community work and campaigns. The council eventually gave them licenses to live there.

The arrangement meant the council had no costs in looking after the properties for decades. We only have to look at Robin Hood Gardens and Balfron Tower to see how good the council is at taking care of its stock.

It now seems the council wants to cash in on other people’s hard work by either selling them on or possibly letting them out to families. But they are a family in the most important sense of the word: taking care and looking out for each other. It seems the council is too willing to dismiss older single people as being somehow undeserving.

So please join them this Wednesday outside the Town Hall before the monthly full council meeting where their petition will be presented to the chamber and discussed.

6-7pm, Weds, 22nd July, Tower Hamlets Town Hall, Mulberry Place, E14 2BG

How to get there: East India DLR or buses: 15, 108, 277, D6, D7, D8

Visit the last TUSH co-op home on Bruce Road

Angelus, Mike and John will be opening up their door during the day on Wednesday for supporters to come and see their co-op home for themselves and find out more about the history of the co-op and why their way of living is a benefit and not a burden.

Their welcoming people between 12 and 5pm. Enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of juice and let John give you a tour of the garden where he grows food and is nurturing wildlife.

 

Campaigners challenge housing association’s social cleansing policy

picture credit: @balfronsocial

picture credit: @balfronsocial

Around 20 housing campaigners and local residents marched through Poplar today in protest over housing association Poplar Harca’s business strategy of evicting social tenants and replacing their homes with properties for private sale and ‘affordable’ rent, which of course we know is unaffordable to most.

Tower Hamlets Renters and Action East End organised the demo as Harca prepares to submit a planning application to refurbish and privatise Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower.

If permitted, around £20m will be spent on refurbishing the 1960s block before the majority of its 146 properties are sold off to bankers and investors with no chance of its original and intended residents to return.

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Tower Hamlets is holding four events during the Radical Housing Network’s Week of Action

Tower Hamlets is set to host four housing events over the next ten days as part of the Radical Housing Network’s week of action.

The first will see housing doctor, campaigner and TH resident Glyn Robins lead a walking tour of the borough’s council housing discussing its history, politics and future. It starts at 11am tomorrow morning (Sat 14 Feb) from the country’s first ever social housing project – the Boundary Estate, near Shoreditch. Meet at the bandstand on Arnold Circus, E2 7JU.

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