Council plans charter for private renters and urges them to complete survey

to let sign on Brixton houseLambeth council is working on a charter for private renters and is calling on local private tenants to complete a short online survey so their experiences can shape its plans to support them.

The survey, run by an independent consultant, closes on Sunday 3 March.

About a third of Lambeth residents live in privately rented accommodation.

The planned council charter would set out renters’ rights, provide advice, support and guidance, and explain the council’s powers to intervene.

The council said that, in the midst of the housing crisis, private renters might feel as if they were left to fend for themselves against a minority of poor landlords and be forced to accept expensive, unsafe and insecure privately rented housing with no recourse to improve their living conditions.

But it said it had a record of clamping down on rogue landlords and on those who put tenants at risk with dangerous overcrowding or substandard accommodation.

It also has a compulsory licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

But it was also clear that more support and advice is needed for private renters in Lambeth, the council said.

Its research is designed to find out more about the experiences of private renters in the borough and what they would like or expect to see from the council to help improve their living conditions.

Council cabinet member for housing Paul Gadsby said: “We estimate that over a third of dwellings in Lambeth are now rented, but in areas like Brixton it could well be higher. It is not an exaggeration to say that this represents a huge cultural shift for the area when it comes to housing as the number of renters is likely to have doubled in the past 20 years.

“Given this changing landscape, we really need to ensure as a council we are getting our services right for private sector renters.”

Cllr Gadsby said the council had “beefed up” its enforcement team to crack down on rogue landlords. This had led to it handing out a £10,000 fine to one individual in Brixton “for the appalling state he was keeping his property in”.

He said a recent full Lambeth council meeting had called on the government to scrap “section 21 evictions” which allow tenants to be evicted with very short notice by landlords.

“These are steps in the right direction, but we really want to find out what else renters want from their council,” said Cllr Gadsby.

“We will also be speaking to the many good landlords in Lambeth and Brixton for their take as well, but if you are a renter in the area I would encourage you to give us your views.”