Since we launched our campaign to improve private renting in the borough two years ago, the government has partly met many of our recommendations, agreeing to ban rogue landlords, making fire and carbon monoxide alarms a legal requirement, taking action on revenge evictions and committing to stopping letting fees for tenants. But much more needs to be done.
The number of people privately renting in Hackney continues to rise and has doubled in the last decade. During that time, rents have increased massively. A two bedroom home will now cost you £1,820 per month on average - over £300 more than it did in 2011 - meaning you'll need to earn over £65,000 a year to afford it. And that's before deposits and letting fees are taken into account.
Why it matters
- 20% - the increase in average rents in Hackney's private rented sector in the last five years, far outstripping inflation
- 32,000 - the number of privately rented households in Hackney, meaning around one in three households are exposed to a poorly regulated private rented sector
- 29% - the percentage of private rented homes in England that don't meet the Decent Homes Standard meaning that they don't meet minimum safety levels, are in a poor state of repair, lack modern facilities or don't have efficient heating and insulation
- 2,800 - the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation in Hackney the biggest cause of which is households being evicted from private rented accommodation and finding themselves unable to find a new home to rent
- £51,200 - the annual household income needed to rent an average one-bedroom home in Hackney
- two thirds - the proportion of private renters in Hackney who say repairs aren't done when needed
On top of this, private renters are most at risk of health issues caused by substandard accommodation, and one of the greatest threats to improving education in Hackney is teachers being unable to afford to live near their work - or considering leaving London altogether.
Four ways towards better private renting
Through this year's Better Renting campaign, we're highlighting the support we provide to Hackney's 32,000 renters, working with local landlords to offer a fairer deal to tenants, and calling on the government not just to make good on the promises they've already made but also do more to help private renters. Our four ways towards Better Renting in Hackney sets out the key issues we're focusing on:
Fairness for tenants
Renters need a stable home too. We want to see long term tenancies, a ban on 'no DSS' adverts and an end to letting fees for tenants now.
What do we want?
- longer tenancies - tenancies should be for up to five years, giving stability for families and those on fixed incomes, and helping tackle the high number of evictions
- ban 'no tenants on benefits' adverts - landlords who advertise that these should be prosecuted
- landlord fines to be passed to councils - so they help the victims of bad landlords and invest in improving services to the private rented sector
Tackling rogue landlords
We want to put a stop to landlords renting out unfit homes by promoting a more robust fit and proper landlord regime and publishing a register of properties and landlords, including a list of convicted landlords.
What do we want?
- a full public register of landlords and properties - this should be available to all tenants
- fast-track licensing schemes - power to decide landlord licensing schemes should be with Councils and the Mayor of London, who are best placed locally to decide what's needed locally
- a 'fit and proper' landlord regime - use the disclosure and barring service to identify and stop unfit landlords renting out homes
Supporting professional landlords
We want to support good landlords, ensuring they are accredited and clued up on their legal responsibilities.
What do we want?
- landlord accreditation - There should be full statutory backing and support for landlord accreditation
- incentives for good landlords - landlords should be given incentives for offering longer tenancies or stable rents, such as getting Housing Benefit paid direct to them
More affordable rents
We think rent increases should be capped at the rate of inflation to help make rents more affordable and predictable.
What do we want?
- sustainable rents - rent increases should not go above inflation, linked to real increase in average incomes to help tenants avoid large and unpredictable rent hikes
- end letting fees - we'll work with letting agents to stop their fees to tenants instead of waiting for the government to introduce a ban, which could take well over a year
- transferable deposits - tenants should be able to automatically transfer their deposit over when they move to a new property
Since 2011 private rents in Hackney have risen by 27%, outstripping inflation, while nationally 39% of tenants live in poverty. Follow #BetterRenting to stay up to date with the campaign.