Constant rent increases and unfinished repairs are among Hackney residents’ complaints following a survey of the capital’s renters

Surveying the scene: Sian Berry peers in the window of a letting agent. Photograph: Sian Berry

Private renters in Hackney have divulged their personal battles with ‘bad landlords’ in response to a survey by Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry.

The Big Renters Survey questioned 1,530 renters in the capital, and 68 per cent responded with additional information about current and past landlords.

Those surveyed retained their anonymity, but some gave Hackney postcodes when asked where they currently reside.

One respondent, living in E8, said: “We need rent caps in London. Landlords are lining their pockets at the expense of people who have no alternative but to pay the majority of their monthly wages straight to people who are getting rich off our labour without lifting a finger to address any housing issues.

“There is a great deal of resentment and a lot of people think that political corruption is at the heart of it – how many MPs are also landlords? It’s robbing us of a future and a present. I feel like diaspora every time I get displaced by regeneration. Soon there’ll be nowhere left to go.”

Ms Berry’s report on the survey’s findings, ‘What are London’s renters thinking?’, revealed that renters across North London, including Hackney, spend an average of 44 per cent of their take-home pay on rent.

Another common problem mentioned by respondents across London was maintenance, with seven out of ten complaining about unfinished repairs.

A renter in E9 commented: “I always feel that the tenants are held more to the contract than the landlord. I have had serious issues in the past with landlords failing to carry out repairs.

“There was a period of time where the shower was out of use for three months. The landlord said the cause of the problem was overuse.”

Nearly six out of ten renters in the capital said they would be prepared to pitch in a small fee to join a London-wide organisation that would help fix these problems.

Ms Berry said: “As a renter in London for nearly 20 years, it’s important to me that I keep bringing the voices of London’s 2.3 million private renters into City Hall. In this report I’m recommending that the Mayor stands up for London’s private renters and supports them in standing up for themselves.

“The willingness of renters to pay a small fee to join a renters’ organisation is very significant, as it means such a group could become self-sustaining once it has been set up.

“The Mayor should look seriously at providing practical help such as office space and seed funding to help found an independent London-wide organisation to represent renters in our city.”

Another respondent from Hackney agreed: “We need collective action. We are too weak as individuals. The fear of losing our homes keeps us quiet.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced in September that he is to launch a ‘London Living Rent’ policy to provide homes with rents based on a third of the average household income in each borough.

The Mayor also promised in his manifesto to set up a landlord licensing scheme to name and shame bad landlords and promote good ones.

The Mayor of London’s office is yet to respond to a request for comment.

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