Crack down on shark landlords in Barking and Dagenham, says report

As increasing numbers of people are forced to move to cheaper London boroughs like Barking and Dagenham, more must be done to crack down on unscrupulous landlords, a report has recommended.

A council investigation into the private rented sector revealed that a number of private landlords in the borough were renting out properties in extremely poor condition, treating their tenants badly and charging rents that did not reflect the standard of the accommodation.

In one case a tenant went without central heating for three years and in another the landlord was rude and abusive towards his tenants and would even jump over the garden fence if they refused to let him in.

The Living and Working Select Committee (LWSC) ran the investigation after concerns the government’s cap on housing benefits would spark an exodus to cheaper boroughs such as Barking and Dagenham, putting pressure on the private rented sector.

The report, put before councillors at last Wednesday’s assembly meeting, said that around 80 per cent of private renters in Barking and Dagenham did not seek any advice before signing a tenancy agreement.

As part of the investigation, the LWSC made six recommendations to deal with private rented sector problems.

They said quarterly surveys of the sector should be continued, together with information packs about tenants’ rights from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

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They also recommended establishing a private tenants’ forum and a scheme for “targeted, area based, mandatory” licensing of landlords.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Mick McCarthy said: “The private rented sector is the least regulated industry that I can think of.

“You go into some of these properties and you can see terrible DIY, 70s wall paper and usually a lot of damp.

“How these landlords have got away with it for so long I don’t know.

“Something definitely needs to be done to deal with the situation.”