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Renters to demand housing changes from political candidates

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Renters to demand housing changes from political candidates

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Housing

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Private renters in Hackney will gather on the steps of the town hall tomorrow to demand changes of the council.

Over the past few months, the Hackney private tenants’ group Digs has been running its 'Tell Us Your Story' campaign by talking to fellow renters and gathering stories of incompetent landlords and agents, rip-off rents and uninhabitable conditions.

Ahead of the local elections, Digs want the council to understand the problems its says are affecting so many renters in the borough.

There are now over 30,000 households who privately rent in Hackney. As the private rented sector in the borough continues to grow rapidly, more locals are keen to know what political candidates intend do for renters.

Hackney renters have agreed a list of demands which they will be making to election candidates when they hand over the dossier, around issues such as longer tenancies, landlord licensing and working in partnership with tenants groups.

Political candidates will be invited to respond to the demands and explain what they plan to do for private tenants.

Digs is also hosting a hustings on 9 May to question as many councillors as possible.

Hero Austin, an organiser from Digs, said: “Hackney residents have seen rents and house prices rise faster than almost anywhere else in London, and have felt the effects - the stories we’ve gathered are from people who have lost their homes, been ripped off and abused by landlords, made to raise their children in appalling, insecure conditions and been let down by the local authority tasked with enforcing the law. This can’t go on. Housing has become the most significant political battle ground, and private renters will be ignored no longer.

"We need a landlord licensing scheme with minimum enforceable standards that gives renters genuine protection from exploitation and poor conditions. And we need a council that is proactive in empowering renters to understand and enforce their rights.”

One of Hackney's private renters involved, 'Nicola', added: “Me and my partner and two young children have lived in private rentals in Hackney for seven years. In that time we have lived in eight different flats.

"Once again we have been served an eviction notice as our landlords have sold our flat. Our son is at school here - the worst thing about our situation is the insecurity, not being able to guarantee to our kids that our house will be our home.”

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