Findings from Listenings - a new Report on the views of private tenants in and around Willesden in Brent.
As part of a two year project – Renters Rights Brent, Advice4Renters’ two Community Organisers, Katherine Wilkinson and Jagrati Bhatia have been out and about in and around Willesden Green knocking on doors and asking tenants for their views.
Katherine explained, “Our original intention was simply to listen to what private tenants had to say, but the results have proved really interesting, so although our ‘listenings’ continue, we thought we would produce a report based on the first 200 tenants we have spoken to”.
Katherine and Jag are assisted in their door-knocking by two volunteer listeners, Tom O’Callagan MBE, a long-term activist and member of Advice4Renters, and Asma Mubarak, who also used her skills to compile a database to record our findings.
“The most heartening thing was how positive people felt about the area where they lived,” commented Jacky Peacock, Director of Advice4Renters. “Sadly, there was less to celebrate about how tenants felt about their homes.”
A4R’s findings are in line with a July Report from the Office of National Statistics that showed Brent as the third least affordable place to live (after Newham and Wesminster) with Brent residents paying an average of 65% of their income on rent. What the ONS report doesn’t record, but which is amply illustrated by Advice4Renters’ own survey is the huge amount of stress created by unaffordable rents. A typical comment was,
“I can't sleep, I’m so stressed. The rent is too high I would like help to find a cheaper and better property.”
While 41% of renters told us they were satisfied or very satisfied with their landlord, it was hard to square this with the 75% who told us they had at least one problem with the home they lived in. The most common problem by far was disrepair, with a lot of complaints about damp, cold homes. For some the problem was made worse by faulty or ‘rationed’ heating. In one case a family had spend a whole Winter without heating; in another the landlord only permitted the heating to be on for a couple of hours morning and evening, regardless of families with children at home for most of the day.
“We are very much hoping that Brent will agree to work more closely with Advice4Renters to make sure more tenants know about Brent’s Property Licensing Scheme which has been introduced to raise standards”, added Jacky.
For more information please read the full Findings from Listenings Report.