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Lib Dems stand up for leaseholders and tenants of rogue landlords 14 April 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Housing, Uncategorized.
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This story appeared in the March – April 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Private tenants and leaseholders would be able to rely on Lewisham Council’s support to resolve problems with landlords and freeholders under proposals put forward by the Lewisham Liberal Democrat council group.

Rogue landlords providing sub-standard accommodation would be targeted, with the aim of improving their conduct and the quality of housing stock available.

National funds for Lewisham

Liberal Democrats in Government have made tackling rogue landlords a national priority. In addition to tough new legislation the Government has provided £6.5 million for local enforcement work. Lewisham will receive £125,000 to enable it to set up a programme to tackle rogue landlords, and employ a dedicated enforcement officer and paralegal, to increase the number of prosecutions.

“Supporting the many vulnerable tenants in private rented accommodation is an important role for the Council, ” says Lib Dem Forest Hill councillor Alex Feakes. “For years Lewisham’s Labour Council have failed to take it seriously enough. With this extra funding from national government they now have no excuse.”

Council leaseholders

Previous work on the council led by Cllr Feakes has seen a shift in Lewisham Council’s relationship with its many leaseholders, though there is still much more to do to ensure that those who own property in a block controlled by the Council are fairly treated.

“Decades of underinvestment and short-termism in repairs by the Council has left many leaseholders facing huge bills for communal works,” says Cllr Feakes. “No one disputes that leaseholders should pay their fair share, but concerns remain about quality, timeliness and payment mechanisms. There seems to be an assumption that anyone with a leasehold must be well-off and can pay any demand put to them!”

Abuses of rogue landlords

These include:
* Harassment of tenants
* Illegal evictions
* Illegal fees charged
* Overcrowding
* Boilers with no gas certificate
* Illegal electricity supplies
* Failure to make repairs
* Refusal to pay back deposits

‘Wipe out criminal landlords’ plea

Duwayne Brooks, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of Lewisham, has vowed to be a champion of vulnerable tenants if he is elected as the borough’s Mayor in May.

“For 40 years Labour has failed to deal with rogue landlords behaving criminally,” said Duwayne. “We need a system that protects and supports our vulnerable tenants. If elected, I will introduce a mandatory borough-wide licensing scheme, similar to the one in place in Newham, to wipe out these rogue criminal landlords.”