Published: 9 August, 2013
by PETER GRUNER
MP Jeremy Corbyn will speak at a public meeting at the Town Hall next month as part of an effort to kick-start plans for his private member’s bill to control Britain’s private housing “nightmare”.
The meeting, on the evening of Tuesday, September 10, is being organised by the newly formed Islington Private Tenants group.
Islington North MP Mr Corbyn, who announced plans for his bill early this year, hopes that it can finally be debated in the Commons on October 22.
He said: “The bill is designed to bring some protection and some justice to tenants forced to privately rent with no security of tenure and no proper regulation of letting agents.”
American-born Laurie Shaw, a freelance writer based in Islington, and a founder member of Islington Private Tenants, said there was far more protection for renters in New York than there is in London.
“Landlords don’t have the same powers to evict in New York as they do in London,” she said.
“Here there is little regulation, particularly over rents. Not only do we pay sky-high rents here but also we are not getting good value for our money. We have no enforcible rights.”
People in private housing pay three times more rent than those in council homes in London, according to Mr Corbyn. He warned that the government’s policy of capping benefits was “leading to social cleansing” in high-priced Islington, with people no longer able to afford to live in the borough.
Not since the 1970s has housing, or the lack of it, been such an urgent issue, particularly in Islington, where more than a third of residents rent privately.
Private landlords can charge more than £1,000 a month for a one-bed flat and £2,000 or more for two-bedroom accommodation.
Mr Corbyn expects to get some cross-party support for his bill, particularly from the Lib Dems.
The bill proposes strict regulation of letting agencies and will stop unreasonable withholding of deposits.
The Town Hall’s Labour housing chief, Councillor James Murray, has welcomed the bill and said that the council is on target to provide 2,000 new homes by 2015.
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