How many of us are there?
The in 2015 the Office for National Statistics found a whopping 136,200 private renters in Newham – that’s 32% of the borough, and the highest number of private renters of all the London boroughs. So it shouldn’t be too hard to find other private renters to campaign with.
If renting is so bad, why don’t private renters just buy a house?
Because in Newham, the average home costs 12.26 times the average salary. This isn’t bad compared to some other parts of London, but it’s still out of reach for most ordinary people.
Why can’t they get a council house then?
Because there are currently 17,453 households on the waiting list for a council house in the borough. Thousands of these have been waiting for over 10 years.
Looks like we’re stuck in the private rented sector then. What’s it going to cost?
Monthly median average rents for Newham, recorded by the Valuation Office Agency, are below. Remember, these figures don’t include fuel or council tax bills:
Room in a shared house: £520
Studio flat: £700
One bedroom flat: £1,050
Two-bedroom flat: £1,300
Three-bedroom flat: £1,600
House with four or more bedrooms: £1,800
That’s a lot. I guess that means a lot of private renters have to claim housing benefit to stay alive then?
Yes, 14,420 private renters in Newham need housing benefit to cover their rent.
And does housing benefit cover it?
No. The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is the maximum amount of housing benefit you can get, regardless of whether you’re a private renter (renting from a private landlord) or a social renter (renting from the council or a housing association). The monthly LHA in Newham is:
Room in a shared house: £342
One-bedroom flat: £789
Two-bedroom flat: £995
House with four or more bedrooms: £1,480
How many privately rented homes in the borough are overcrowded?
Newham council’s own Housing Needs Survey (2010) found 23% of privately rented homes in the borough were overcrowded.
Can I talk to someone at the council about problems with my private landlord?
Yes. Newham has a specialist team for private renters. They are trained to help if you have received a section 21 notice or are experiencing illegal eviction or harassment from your landlord. Contact them on 0203 373 1950. The council also provides some support and advice for private renters on their website. This includes help for when landlords fail to repair their property or take too long.
Are there any Tenancy Relations Officers (TROs)?
Newham calls them housing advisers, but they have the same function as TROs (for example, tackling private landlords who harass their tenants). Contact them on 0203 373 1950.
Does the council have an internal private lettings agency?
No, but advice on how to find a home in the private rented sector is available here. For private housing technical support call 020 3373 1950
Do private landlords in Newham have to get a licence?
In some ways, you’re in the right borough to be a private renter: Newham became famous a couple of years ago for being the first council to introduce compulsory landlord licensing. The council makes all private landlords get a licence so they know who the local landlords are and what sort of state their properties are in. It’s a bit like driving a car: you have to get a licence so you don’t risk damaging others when you’re driving it. Landlords who rent out homes without a license are fined £20k and can have their property taken away from them – and to get a licence, they have to show they are a ‘fit and proper person’. So if you rent in Newham, at least you know your landlord is not a criminal – something you can’t always depend on in other boroughs.
On the other hand, Newham introduced licensing because privately rented homes in the borough were terrible, with many landlords charging high rent for ‘beds in sheds’ that were not fit for humans to live in.
Newham Council also takes part in the Landlord accreditation scheme, and you can check if your landlord is accredited here.
Does Newham council have a Private Rented Sector (PRS) forum, where private renters can discuss ways to make private renting better?
Newham Council does not run a private renters’ forum but say that PRS tenants are a group they have tried to engage with. The council does have a lot of contact with Generation Rent and Shelter and has carried out a recent face to face survey of private renters as part of a consultation on licensing. And London Renters’ Union has an active branch in Newham
Newham Council has an excellent record over the last few years of bringing criminal landlords to justice. In fact, it is responsible for 70% of prosecutions in all of London. In many recent instances, tenants have been able to rely on the council’s services to protect them from rogue and criminal landlords, which can’t be said for many other boroughs. Landlords found at fault can be fined up to £30,000.
How many criminal landlords have been prosecuted?
Between March 2012 and March 2015, 359 landlords were prosecuted by Newham Council under the 2004 Housing Act, more than all the other London boroughs combined.
Since the introduction of the licensing scheme in 2013, the council has made a total of 1,135 prosecutions for housing crimes.
Who else can I talk to about making private renting fairer in Newham?
Every council is divided between Councillors, who are elected politicians, and non-political officers, who are appointed to do a particular job. In Newham, this person might be useful to talk to: