Tag Archives: tower hamlets renters

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

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New TH cabinet member for housing fluffs lines on new eviction law

licensing demo 5

A sneaky picture from inside the chamber. It wasn’t me.

TH Renter Michael James was left feeling angry and offended last night after asking TH Council’s new cabinet member for housing, Sirajul Islam, what the council can do to speed up property inspections to make use of the new law to prevent revenge evictions.

Michael’s landlord attempted to evict him three times last year after he reported dangerous conditions at the 19-apartment block he lives in and so fully appreciates the importance of the new law that came into effect in October.

However, instead of offering any assurances or asking for an explanation if he wasn’t aware of the new law, Sirajul simply repeated the answer he gave to Michael’s previous question on landlord licensing.

licensing demo 2TH Renters are concerned that the councillor responsible for protecting private renters from callous landlords doesn’t seem to be keeping abreast of new laws aimed at doing just that.

The new law states that a private tenant cannot be evicted from his or her home for six months after the council has carried out an inspection and issued an improvement notice to the landlord following a complaint about sub-standard conditions.

However, as Michael found out, it can take up to a year for the council to carry out an inspection and 18-months to issue an improvement notice. To be fair to the council it was not one property they had to inspect, but 19. They then have to compile a report before issuing the improvement notice.

licensing demo 6But the reality is that TH Council’s environmental health team – who carry out the inspections – is under-resourced and so they are unable to quickly respond to complaints meaning a landlord could evict a tenant who has complained before the council has inspected the property and issued an improvement notice.

Hence Michael’s question: “can the [cabinet member for housing] outline how he will speed up inspections and the issuing of improvement notices, so private renters can benefit from the new law that is supposed to prevent revenge evictions?”

The answer is clearly: “no he can’t.”