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Activists turn on letting agents and Labour as “landlords’ lackeys”

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. “

  • Billy the Fish

    What % of agents actively set out to exploit tenants? That’s the stat I’d like to know as based on Warsama’s comments it’d be about 75%. I’m not sure Warsama has that stat.
    There is definitely a % of agents who do this sadly.

  • jeremy clarke

    More fluff and hot air without a single fact in sight. When will these so called activists get jobs and join the real world rather than living in their bubble of hate?

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    Agents have to act on their landlords instructions whether they agree or not, whilst there is a duty of care to a tenant we are sometimes stuck in the middle. There are landlords out there that will try what they can to get the most rent without investing in property improvements but they are the minority not the majority. if you are going to rent a run down property there is a fair chance the landlord is not going to pay to put things right. Not all landlords or letting agents are the same and the stats would be interesting to back up this article.

  • girish mehta

    Just one person want to get free housing
    Everyone is suffering high inflation. Landlords suffer double whammy they have to pay their bills as well as higher housing cost. Increase in mortguage sales and other housing cost have to be met. It effects everyone . She can’t pay increase rent then move out to cheaper place or find a better place at same rent . Last option is buy your place there is lot government help with low deposit. Stop winging we all hat to go through hardship when we were young . We hat to live with 15% interest mortguage rates and had to manage and work hard .Not live on takeaways and Starbucks. Get up early and make you own coffee for start.

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    Having researched her, it would seem she is a typical stirrer of her age, supporting de-colonisation (whatever that that is); protests wherever possible. As typical of her generation she is unable to produce facts, just shouts that everyone else is wrong. If only she did something productive with her life.

    jeremy clarke

    Oh my goodness, I bet her parents are proud of her, she hates everything and campaigns against everything. Happy enough it would seem to take "the king's shilling" and be funded to spout her rubbish at Goldsmith University!?
    Just search her name and Goldsmiths

  • icon

    The government has put in place new legislation to support Tenants giving them extra powers against private landlords,this is resulting in many landlords selling up having experienced heavy losses over the lockdowns of the Covid period, and the ongoing resentment towards private landlords

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    This is clearly tenants version ( whom seems very well structured part of a group etc:) and would be delighted to yet read up the letting agents version, the conservative government has recently almost raced toward regulation the Private rented sector with failed and botched policies only benefiting large fund managers with the intent to consolidate the smaller yet large percentage of BTL market being us the smaller landlords.
    the Government has over regulated this market and has made this unsustainable. i as a landlord appose and reject selective licensing and hope the rest do also where ever you are.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Sadly, what these organisations fail to grasp year after year, is that by constantly attacking all landlords and agents they win no allies. You get much further in life, forming viable coalitions to achieve greater success against your primary target- than picking a fight with everyone. If agents are 'just landlord lackeys' then why do organisations like TLIC exist who have been actively pursuing industry licensing/regulation, enhancement of letting laws (via adoption of UPRNs and the Property MOT model), etc. etc.
    It's lazy, headline grabbing, clickbait politics that achieves media coverage but little else. The refusal by many of these groups to engage and to try and find a mutually agreeable way forward, with landlords and agents alike, tells you all you need to know about their childlike, tantrum-riddled politics.

  • icon

    Why are the measures you want of any use to anyone, aprt from the people who run them ? Please substantiate !

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    Many landlords are unwilling to continue with these arguments and attacks on them. They have withdrawn from the private rental sector and instead offering their properties as short term holiday lets or Air bnb which do not have all the legislation. Avoiding all the hassle

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    Why would anyone expect supposedly impartial MP's or political parties to get involved in civil disputes? Are they saying that simply on the basis of being a tenant with a dispute against an agent or landlord, that Labour and it's MP's should automatically support them?

    This reminds me of the time I was asked if I supported local strike action (in a local company I knew nothing about) and was treated to nothing short of horrific abuse when I dared to ask for details of the dispute so I could form a conclusion and give an answer. No answer other than 'yes' was even remotely acceptable.

    These people don't live in the real world.


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