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London renters respond to racist discrimination from letting agents

DiscrimTonight BBC’s Inside Out revealed letting agents racially discriminating against prospective renters in West London. Going undercover in ten letting agents, they found all agents where quite happy not to let to Afro Caribbeans when journalists posing as landlords requested it.

A group of private renter group including Digs who launched the ‘Let Down’ campaign against greedy, discriminatory letting agents have come out to publicly condemn discrimination by landlords and letting agents.

Here us what they had to say….

The shameful revelations about racial discrimination in the private rented sector highlight the gross imbalance that exists between landlords and tenants. Our members have encountered openly racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes from landlords and agents, not to mention the routine discrimination against benefit claimants who are confronted with ‘No DSS’ signs in the windows of supposedly respectable high street letting agents.

Open and covert discrimination is one reason we as members of the London Renters coalition embarked on our ‘Let Down’ campaign and continue to call on the Government to do more to protect private renters. The housing market is so heavily weighted in favour of landlords. One consequence of this is letting agents are falling over themselves to attract new landlords and happily pandering to prejudices, safe in the knowledge that in this largely unregulated market the few laws that do exist to protect tenants are unlikely to be enforced.

As the Inside Out programme into letting agents makes painfully clear, the scant legislation currently regulating letting agents isn’t working. We need urgent action to stamp out unacceptable discrimination. We call on the Government to introduce long overdue licensing of letting agents and landlords so prejudices can be properly exposed and eradicated. We need a national register of landlords so those found illegally discriminating against people can be struck off.

And councils must be properly resourced so they can enforce the law against the shady and discriminatory practices which are a daily reality for people forced to rent in London. As the capital’s private rented sector continues to grow and council budgets are slashed, local authorities find themselves wholly unprepared to deal with the landlords and agents operating outside the law. Central Government need to address this issue as a priority.

Brent Housing Action Group will be picketing the National Estate Agents at 12.30pm at National Estate Agents to publicly condemn letting agent discrimination and call for regulation of letting agents.”

This statement is a joint response from the following London based private rented groups:

Advice4Renters
Camden Federation of Private Tenants
Digs
Lambeth Renters
Islington Private Tenants
Southwark Tenants

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3 thoughts on “London renters respond to racist discrimination from letting agents

  1. Given the Mega landlord is evicting housing benefit tenants in favour of East Europeans. Does your claim of discrimination hold true?

  2. Pingback: OFT ‘must stamp out’ estate agent discrimination | HackneyRenters

  3. Your article makes no mention of Landlords of having to check immigration status of potential tenants. There are fines of £3,000. Don’t you think this will force landlord not to rent to foreign nationals or ones who ‘look’ foreign?.

    Landlords can’t tell a real passport from a fake one, nor are they trained to do so. Do you think the Swedish embassy, will verify the authenticity of a Swedish passport?.

    Landlord have been left with a mess.

    A British passport holder from Gibraltar, might be a British citizen, but not have the right to live in the UK.

    It opens to door for letting agents to charge silly fees for referencing, because of these “immigration checks”.

    If I rent a property to a single British lady, I really don’t want to be pushy and ask the ‘nationality’ of the boyfriend who moves in with her. This is what the Government wants us to do, or face fines of £3,000.

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