For those living in council-owned properties, Hackney Housing provides a range of services to maintain and improve the condition of homes in the borough. This includes a repairs service, which is responsible for the structure and outside of the property, systems in the property for supplying water, gas, electricity and sanitation, and heating. Similar services are provided by all housing associations operating locally.

For properties in the private rented sector, Hackney Council recently launched its campaign, ‘10 steps to better private renting for tenants and landlords,’ which aims to improve standards in this sector (see Box 9). 2

Hackney Council’s Private Sector Housing team also provides a tenant complaints service, which delivers a range of interventions aimed at improving housing conditions and removing hazards to mitigate health impacts and prevent homelessness.  The service receives around 500 to 600 complaints related to substandard conditions and over 130 pest control and nuisance type complaints each year. Support available from the service includes negotiation with private landlords and, where necessary, enforcement action. The service also administers the statutory Mandatory Licensing Scheme for larger HMOs, which ensures that fire safety, housing management and housing conditions in the private rented sector meet prescribed standards. The government is currently consulting on extending the mandatory HMO licensing scheme to increase the number of properties subject to the scheme.

In the City of London, minimum standards have been set out for the first time that are applicable to all HMOs and refer to basic minimum standards for fire protection, room sizes, management and amenity provision. They are intended to assist landlords to comply with minimum standards and assist with regulation if landlords are non-compliant.

Box 9: Hackney Council’s 10 steps to improve private renting

Topic Detail
Inflation-capped rents To ensure greater security for tenants, as well as continuity of income for landlords
Longer tenancies These should be offered for years, not months, giving more stability, particularly for families with children
Government should publish a list of convicted landlords and lettings agents To enable renters to check those offering a property are fit to do so
Fast-track licensing schemes Cut red tape for councils setting up licensing schemes to ensure high quality standards of accommodation and service
Create a national quality kitemark So tenants can identify good quality accommodation
Pay Housing Benefit direct Explore further incentives for responsible landlords, including the choice of direct Housing Benefit payments to accredited landlords offering longer tenancies and stable rents
Public register of landlords and properties To enable tenants to find out directly who they pay rent to and enable the council to provide information and support to landlords who need it
Require letting agents to protect paid rent and fees Mandatory protection to ensure recovery in case a lettings agent goes into administration or misappropriates funds
Costs transparency Make it mandatory for landlords to publish related costs of a property, such as utility bills, and for lettings agents to explain all their fees
Improve safety Mandatory installation of fire and carbon monoxide detectors and mandatory annual electrical tests

References

  1. Hackney Council, “10 steps to better private renting for tenants and landlords,” [Online]. Available: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/10-steps. [Accessed June 2016].
  2. Hackney Council, “10 steps to better private renting for tenants and landlords,” [Online]. Available: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/10-steps. [Accessed June 2016].