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Why London private landlords are making fuel poverty worse

Eva Fuel Poverty ActionLast week I campaigned as a member of Digs alongside Fuel Poverty Action as we took action against

British Gas and called for “People and Planet not greedy profiteering!”

I spoke about the relationship between fuel poverty and renting in London and beyond.

 

As Digs we have identified four main problems in the private rented sector (PRS):

  • High Rents
  • Housing Standards
  • Insecurity
  • And landlords who only look at the bottom line without considering the true implication of their actions on tenants.

All these problems contribute to making fuel poverty even worse. High Rent, if you are spending almost all of your household income on rent that does not leave much else for other essentials.

Bill are pushed up by the poor standards of so many of the properties in the PRS. Can you believe this? There are no minimum standards the private rented sector!

Many of us now find ourselves paying extortionate rent to live in cold damp un-insulated properties that would cost a fortune to heat to a reasonable level and instead have to live permanently in three jumpers throughout the winter.

And if we complain or try to get our landlords and letting agents to do something about these problems? Insecurity! We face eviction so that landlords can up the rent and re-let to other tenants who are even more desperate and less likely to complain. And with the housing crisis as it is in London boroughs such as Hackney landlords always find new tenants very easily.

Complaining can mean losing everything. Many people face the impossible reality of bringing up their children in the cold or going into unsustainable debt to keep them healthy and fed.

Across London the average rent is £1,196 per month. Almost 12 hundred pounds! Gross monthly income at national minimum wage is £990 and £1368 on London living wage. This means that if you are a single income family lucky enough to get London living wage you are left with just £172 a month to pay for all food, bills and other essentials for the whole family.

As rented accommodation becomes harder to find, especially at the lower end of the market landlords are increasingly taking advantage of this to charge even more extortionate rents and take advantage of tenants’ historically weak legal position to impose poor housing standards. Tenants are frequently forced to put up with disrepair due to the disproportionate power granted to landlords under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 which allows landlords to evict tenants for no reason after the first six months of their Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

The proportion of housing in the private rented sector which is non decent is 35%- larger than any other area of housing. Sixty-one percent of tenants have experienced damp, mould and other states of disrepair in the last 12 months.

Landlords are fully complicit in a world where profit tops everything and this leads directly to fuel poverty!

So we say: No More profit before people and planet!

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