The London borough is to splash out £100,000 on setting up the new organisation, the first of its kind launched by a UK council.
Earlier this week councillors at Southwark council voted in favour
of the initiative, which aims to lobby for better
standards and take action against rogue landlords in the borough where it’s
estimated that one-third of homes are now privately rented.
Labour councillor James McAsh, who pushed for the
scheme, told the council assembly that a “crisis of greed” had left residents
in the private rented sector at the mercy of rent hikes and poor-quality
He says: “We have to deal with the homes in our borough that are
under the control of unscrupulous landlords – and the pain caused by ratcheting
up rents and landlords turning up announced.
“Those scoundrels think they can get away with it because they’re
accountable to no one, but today that changes.”
Councillor McAsh said the new union was a “rebalancing of power”
and a way to support tenants to defend their own rights and interests.
Although Southwark Council is still short on detail about how the
union will be run, the cash will be available in
the next financial year. It will be one of a few renters’ unions already
established in the UK, including the London Renters Union, Tenants Union UK and
These aim to defend the interests and quality of life of tenants and
renters, and redress what they see as an imbalance of power between landlords
borough runs two property licensing schemes and wants to introduce a ‘gold
standard’ register of landlords to recognise and publicly list those who are
best in class.