Helping tenants fight huge rent increases

This month we helped three tenants to fight a huge rent increase requested by their landlord. The tenants faced a doubling or tripling of rent. The tenants were due to be visited by the valuation office to inspect their small flats and make a decision about the rent increase.

We were contacted by one of the tenants who is aged in his late seventies and who was very distressed about the proposed increase in rent. As part of our Older Fitzrovia project we arranged for the tenant to get proper advice and one of our volunteers accompanied him to see a housing adviser at Camden Council’s housing advice service.

We then contacted all the tenants in the three mansion blocks owned by the same landlord asking if anyone else had had a similar rent increase request. We received three replies and assisted two of the tenants.

One of our volunteers then acted as a advocate for three tenants as they were visited by the valuation officer. All the tenants were aged between 55 and 80 years old. We were also assisted with advice from Camden Federation of Private Tenants.

The landlord had carried out refurbishments to all the flats and was now seeking to increase the rent. In the process, tenants were asked to give up many of their furnishings including kitchen equipment and carpets as the landlord wanted to install their own kitchen appliances. The tenants were cajoled into accepting the refurbishments and were given no indication that their rent may significantly rise as a result. We were very concerned about the way the tenants had been treated.

Our neighbourhood is experiencing continued rent increases above inflation. We are particularly concerned about residents who have lived here for most of their lives being forced out by these rent rises.

On this occasion we were successful and the valuation officer significantly reduced the rent asked for. Instead the tenants had to pay an increase in their rent of around 6 or 7 per cent.

However, we were then again approached by one of the tenants because the landlord had entered an incorrect amount of money on the tenants direct debit account. An amount greater than that set by the valuation office had been entered. We helped the tenant to resolve the problem.

The Older Fitzrovia project is funded with a grant from the Big Lottery Fund and from public donations.

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