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Tenants' charter launches in borough with 40% private renters

A new charter has been launched to promote the rights of tenants in a London borough where, for the first time in generations, the private rental sector has grown larger than the social housing sector.

The local council has launched the Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter, pushing the key message that every private renter has the right to live in a safe and secure home, and to be treated fairly by their landlord or agent. 

The council says the charter is backed by a broad range of organisations, who will also provide specialist assistance and guidance for the private rental sector which now accounts for 40 per cent of Tower Hamlets households: 36 per cent of homes are in the social housing sector and 24 per cent are owner occupied.

The council predicts the current total of 46,000 privately rented homes is set to increase significantly in the near future at the borough’s population is expected to rise by 25 per cent by 2026.

“Standards are already being raised through our landlord licensing work, and this Charter provides a quick and easy way for all private renters to find out what their rights are, what standards they should expect, and where to go for help” says a council spokesman.

The Charter includes what the local authority describes as “key rights and standards that private renters should expect” including:

- protection in law against discrimination by letting agents;

- letting fees must be displayed in offices and online;

- agents belonging to an independent complaints scheme;

- the tenancy terms must be fair and understandable without hidden surprises;

- rents should not increase during the fixed period of a tenancy;

- strict rules in place if your landlord wants a tenant to move out;

- annual gas safety checks carried out by a certified Gas Safe engineer;

- a home free from damp and mould problems;

- working smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector for homes with solid fuel heating;

- repairs must be done in a timely way.

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