As the Islington Labour-run Town Hall secures a £300,000 fine for a private landlord in Junction ward, Cllr Diarmaid Ward writes about why it is so important to be on the side of private renters.
In the last 25 years, the proportion of people living in private rented homes in Islington has increased from 13 per cent to 31 per cent. This is a massive change in how many people live.
Sadly, we hear all too often of situations where renters are getting a bad deal – living in poor conditions and being ripped-off by rogue landlords. Islington Labour is determined to get a fairer deal for privaet renters.
Since 2014, our action to support private renters has helped improve over 1,400 local homes, and we’ve offered advice to over 2,200 people having problems with landlords or with their homes. We’ve also introduced targeted landlord licensing schemes to drive-up standards, and will bring forward plans for similar schemes in more areas of the borough.
Last month, Islington Council secured the largest ever fine for a private landlord in the borough’s history. A property company had illegally converted one property into five individual flats, without planning permission. These flats were substandard and we took action to make it clear that landlords cannot ignore the Council when it comes to protecting private renters.
The £304,458 fine that the property company now has to pay, along with another almost £30,000 of costs they were ordered to pay, sends a clear message that Islington Council is on the side of private renters.
We were the first Council to establish a not-for-profit Council-run private lettings agency, that offers both tenants and landlords a fairer deal. Alongside our landlord licensing schemes and advice services for private renters, we want to continue to improve standards and fairness.
The Government has promised to end rip-off letting agent fees, but we have seen precious little progress on this and I will be turning up the heat on the Government to make good on its promises.
Islington Labour is determined to build the genuinely affordable homes local people need, including new council homes. But this does not mean that we are ever going to take our eye off the ball when it comes to getting private renters a fairer deal.
Pictured – Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing & Development at Islington Council