Foxtons Brixton run scared of Community Housing Inspectors

With letting agents unregulated, south London renters formed their own ‘Community Housing Inspection’ team on Saturday to find out exactly what Brixton’s letting agents get up to. The Community Housing Inspection started at Eden Harper

The team of inspectors were clearly visible with hi-vis jackets and clipboards. When asked whether they were from the council, one of the inspectors explained: “We’re a group of local residents and today we’re conducting a Community Housing Inspection. We’re visiting all the lettings agents in central Brixton to ask about the fees they charge, the rents they recommend and how they handle offers from people on housing benefit.”

We also visited Haart

Letting agents Eden Harper and Haart were prepared to speak to the inspectors, and even talked candidly about their personal views on the need for more regulation in the industry.

But when the team arrived at Foxtons, two bouncers came to the door. They had been hired for the day and instructed to prevent the entry of anyone protesting high rents or dodgy letting agents’ practices. No-one would come out to even speak to them, with the security guards claiming that no one from the lettings team was available. Strange. Even stranger that they still weren’t there when the campaigners returned later in the day.Instead, a crowd of passers-by gathered with the team’s supporters and started to chant “Bring back Speedy Noodle!” in reference to a favourite Brixton eatery which had occupied the space on the high street before Foxtons arrived earlier this year.

We presented Foxtons with a certificate for being Brixton's worst letting agent

Foxtons were given a certificate for being Brixton’s worst letting agent

The protest ended with an awards ceremony, complete with bubbly, party poppers, a specially-written song, and a certificate presented to Foxtons for being Brixton’s worst letting agency, with “high fees, high rents, cowardly behaviour and services to gentrification”.

A member of the Community Housing Inspection Team summed the event up: “Rising rents are a real problem locally and we want to assess whether letting agents adhere to basic ethical standards. We plan to share the results of our inspection publicly and will use them to keep tabs on Brixton’s worst letting agents.”

You can also read reports of the event by the Brixton Blog and People’s Republic of Southwark. To get involved in housing action in south London, get in touch with HASL (Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth) or Southwark Private Tenants Group.

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2 thoughts on “Foxtons Brixton run scared of Community Housing Inspectors

  1. This year £23.8 billion will be spent on Housing Benefit. The budget keeps spiralling thanks to rent increases (37% in last 5 years alone). Yet the government’s response to this huge bill hits only tenants, particularly in London, with HB limits and Bedroom Tax.

    Not one of the political parties has proposed a RENT CAP. Rent Caps are in use throughout Sweden to stop tenants being overcharged by landlords and their agents.

    Imposing a Rent Cap of 90% of average rents in the UK would:

    1. Save £2.38 billion in Housing Benefit – without hitting tenants.

    2. Relieve the financial pressure on urban tenants.

    3. Dis-incentivise ‘Buy-To-Let’ landlordism.

    4. Free up more property for first time buyers currently priced out of the market by the ‘Buy-To-Let’ brigade.

    Landlords have ‘filled their boots’ since the stock market crash in 2008, using ‘Buy-To-Let’ mortgages to expand their empires, driving up property prices as more enter the market for investment, not need; and increasing rents in line with gains from those price increases. Housing Benefit is now as much a vehicle to feed landlord’s profits, as it is a shelter for needy tenants.

    It is time to impose Rent Capping to tackle landlord profiteering and relieve hard-pressed tenants.

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