How many of us are there?
The 2011 Census found 102,638 private renters in the borough – that’s nearly a third of the total population. The current figure is probably higher, considering how much the housing crisis has deepened since then. So there should be enough private renters to campaign with!
If renting is so bad, why don’t private renters just buy a house?
Because in Wandsworth, the average home costs 15.10 times the average.
Why can’t they get a council house then?
Because there are currently 5,919 households on the waiting list for social housing in the borough.
Looks like we’re stuck in the private rented sector then. What’s it going to cost?
Monthly average rents for Wandsworth, recorded by the Valuation Office Agency, are below. Remember, these figures don’t include fuel or council tax bills:
Room in a shared house: £650
Studio flat: £970
One bedroom flat: £1,387
Two-bedroom flat: £1,700
Three-bedroom flat: £2,225
House with four or more bedrooms: £3,203
That’s a lot. I guess that means a lot of private renters have to claim housing benefit to stay alive then?
Yes – 7,691 private renters in Wandsworth claim 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 Wandsworth depends on which part of the borough you live in, and the two different rates are:
Inner South West London (e.g. Wandsworth, Battersea, Tooting)
Shared Accommodation Rate: £408.98
One Bedroom Rate: £1,099.87
Two Bedrooms Rate: £1,310.10
Three Bedrooms Rate: £1,536
Four Bedrooms Rate: £177.80
Outer South West London (see map of this area here)
Shared Accommodation Rate: £379
One Bedroom Rate: £896
Two Bedrooms Rate: £1,215.93
Three Bedrooms Rate: £1,460.16
Four Bedrooms Rate: £1,807.09
To improve standards in the Private Rented Sector, Wandsworth Council offers landlord accreditation and hosts courses for landlords too.
Can I talk to someone at the council about problems with my private landlord?
Wandsworth Council provides a form for people with issues of overcrowding, pests or disrepair in private rented accommodation. However, for issues of disrepair they insist you talk to your landlord first and they may ask for evidence of communication.
Do private landlords in Wandsworth have to get a licence?
All councils have to licence Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) where five people who are not all members of the same family share a kitchen, a bathroom or a toilet. There are exceptions, though. If your shared flat is in a purpose-built block of more than three flats, mandatory licensing does not apply.
Wandsworth Council has rejected plans for further licensing. This is something that campaigners should pressure the council to reconsider.
Does Wandsworth Council run a non-profit letting agency for private renters?
Yes, it is called the Private Sector Leasing Scheme. You can read more about the leasing programme here
Wandsworth Council is taking a positive interest in the situations private tenants find themselves in. A survey has been collected which will inform future housing policy. However, the outcome of this survey remains unknown
Does Wandsworth Council run a forum for private renters’?
How many criminal landlords has Wandsworth Council prosecuted?
We are still waiting for an up to date figure from the council, but we do know that only 4 landlords were prosecuted between 2011 and 2014
Every council is divided between Councillors, who are elected politicians, and non-political officers, who are appointed to do a particular job. In Wandsworth, these people might be useful to talk to:
Councillor Claire Salier
Cabinet Member for Housing