The number of Lambeth residents renting privately has more than doubled over the last 20 years, and more Lambeth residents are private renters than are homeowners or council tenants. Supporting private tenants is an increasingly important priority for us.
The vast majority of private landlords are responsible, and we’ll continue to support and actively work with them. However, there are some landlords who are unaware of what they should be doing, and a very small minority who completely flout the rules. They ignore their legislative requirements and commit housing related crimes, letting out homes in unfit conditions and harassing their tenants. We have wide ranging powers to tackle this kind of behaviour.
We will support private-sector tenants to ensure that their home reaches the standards required by law, with a priority given to those facing the worst conditions and standards. As this charter is launched, we are also increasing the size of our enforcement team and strengthening our capacity for inspecting and regulating homes.
We know that many tenants are unaware of their rights. This charter clearly sets out what they are and Lambeth’s powers to intervene where we can. At the time of writing, October 2020, the country is in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, and temporary changes to housing law have been put in place; it’s more important than ever that tenants keep themselves informed, and the council has an important role in raising awareness and providing advice.
What we can do as a local authority is constrained by the existing legal framework. We will continue to lobby government on our private tenants’ behalf to change the rules, improving the quality and security for private renters.
Finally, we are supporting new development in Lambeth to give more and better choices, including a range of affordable housing options and purpose built-to-rent developments with longer tenancies and good management.
Cllr Jenny Brathwaite