Renters are getting the worst deal in our housing crisis and until drastic action is taken to completely overhaul the housing market more people will be left at the mercy of rogue landlords.
Southwark’s social housing list is ever growing. The council also continues to lose its own homes through right to buy (which it doesn’t have the power to reform) and despite some welcome improvements its housing budget is still stretched.
Even in areas where overcrowding is not so acute, and rents aren’t as high as in Southwark, standards are often woefully poor.
This means councils have to take much more rigorous enforcement action on the slum landlords who fleece vulnerable people out of thousands a year.
From the tenants surviving from one month to the next teetering on the brink of financial collapse, to the councils picking up the pieces when renters find themselves unable to pay spiralling bills and to the buildings left mouldering from lack of investment while absentee landlords spend money elsewhere, it’s no wonder housing is one of the biggest causes of genuine heartbreak and frustration to our readers.
Many still keep up with the News but can no longer live in the borough. They tell us they left because, quite simply, it’s impossible to afford a family home without either 1) Having a million to spend or a £100k income 2) having a council home already 3) being very high on the list in a priority band 4) living in appalling conditions.
There are some fantastic landlords and the council is taking steps to ensure they are recognised as such, so people can make informed choices about who to rent from.
Some landlords may not be breaking the law, but they may not exactly be shining examples of good practice either – and here the Renters’ Union will be best placed to step in.
But ultimately it’s a sideshow to the really critical work needed – a huge investment in council house building.