An activist at the centre of a controversy involving a London letting agent has used a left-wing website to explain how her group distrusts both letting agents and even the Labour party.
Sarah Warsama of the London Renters Union writes on the Tribune website that her group regards what she calls “the landlord’s lackeys” - letting agents - as fair game for attack. In that spirit her group was involved in the controversy at the Eaton Green lettings agency in London last week, in which an agent was allegedly called a “w*****”.
She describes the controversy as being prompted by a “landlord [who] wanted to increase the rent on our dilapidated property for which we already pay over the odds. In search of a quick buck, they sought a pretext to put us out on the street. In an attempt to force us out, we were served with what we recognised as an invalid eviction notice along with unjustified fines.”
However, Warsama’s group - which is part of the Renters’ Reform Coalition along with Generation Rent, led by former Labour Baroness Alicia Kennedy - also criticises the Labour Party in the Tribune article.
She says: “We sought the support of our local Labour councillors and our local MP, Harriet Harman. Shamefully, they palmed us off onto renters’ rights associations after providing no help whatsoever. Harman stated that her role as an MP meant she was ‘unable to assist with private landlord disputes.’
The refusal of our Labour representatives shows how lacking renters are in terms of political representatives prepared to stand up for them. Labour councils should be using their autonomy to crack down on shameful practices of estate agents and landlords, and MPs should be providing renters in need with their support—not washing their hands of us.”
Harman, a veteran Labour MP who is retiring from the Commons at the next General Election, was married to fellow Labour MP Jack Dromey, who recently died.
Warsama ends her Tribune article this way: “Renters—and young people in particular—are suffering a crushing combination of high rents and low wages, and are struggling to get by. This is a stark contrast to the luxury and comfort enjoyed by the landlord class whose mortgages we pay. Estate agents in general ought to be understood as active participants in this exploitation, and not as some neutral third party acting as a mediator between tenants and private landlords—they are too often the instruments of unscrupulous landlords and are used to exploit renters for all they’re worth. “