Privately renting tenants information

Renters' Charter

Tower Hamlets Private Renters' Charter sets out in accessible language the standards the law demands from all private landlords and agents.  The council and every organisation signed up to the charter aims to support mainstream landlords and agents as well as tenants by making sure that every rented room, flat or house in Tower Hamlets meets these standards – and by driving out the criminals who won’t obey the law.   

Tower Hamlets Private Renters’ Charter is endorsed and backed by the following organisations. They all are committed to making sure that private renters live in homes that are safe and secure, and that landlords and agents treat tenants fairly under the law.

  • ARLA Propertymark
  • Deposit Protection Scheme
  • Generation Rent
  • My Deposit
  • Ombudsman Services
  • Renters' Rights
  • Residential Landlords Association
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme
  • The Property Ombudsman

Rent Repayment Orders

A Rent Repayment Order is an order made by the First-tier Tribunal requiring a landlord to repay a specified amount of rent.  Either the tenant or the Council (if Housing Benefits are paid) can apply to the Tribunal to have up to 12 months' rent paid back for the period that the property was unlicensed.  They are available for the following situations:

  • Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice under section 30 of the Housing Act 2004; 
  • Failure to comply with a Prohibition Order under section 32 of the Hosing Act 2004;
  • Breach of a banning order made under section 21 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016;
  • Using violence to secure entry to a property under section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977; and
  • Illegal eviction or harassment of the occupiers of a property under section 1 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Homes (Fit for Human Habitation) Act 2018

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 came into force on 20th March 2019. The Act will enable tenants to pursue claims relating to substandard housing conditions.

When determining whether a house is unfit for human habitation, regard shall be had to the following factors;

  • repair,
  • stability,
  • freedom from damp,
  • internal arrangement,
  • natural lighting,
  • ventilation,
  • water supply,
  • drainage and sanitary conveniences,
  • facilities for preparation and cooking of food and for the disposal of waste water;
  • any prescribed hazard. (as assessed under HHSRS)

The house or dwelling shall be regarded as unfit for human habitation if, and only if, it is so far defective that it is not reasonably suitable for occupation in that condition.

Some examples of defects which could render a dwelling unfit (so long as it is so defective that the dwelling is not reasonably suitable for occupation) from 20 March 2019 could include lack of heating, excessive cold, overcrowding, lighting, fire safety or noise.

Damp and mould

This is one of the most common complaints the Housing Enforcement team receives each year. In most cases the cause is found to be the way the property is used rather than anything related to the building itself. Drying washing on radiators or using a tumble dryer without a vent are the main causes of damp and mould in domestic premises. Other causes can be over occupation, lack of ventilation, an inadequate heating system or the way the heating is used. Read more about how to prevent damp and mould here.

Eviction Notices

Many people living in HMOs have an assured shorthold tenancy. If you're an assured shorthold tenant living in an HMO which should be licensed but isn't, any section 21 notice (two months' notice to leave) your landlord gives you is not valid.

Elections and voting

The electoral commission has identified that only 57 per cent of tenants who rent privately were registered to vote in 2014/15. This is in contrast to owner occupiers where over 95 per cent of occupants were registered. The council wants to encourage tenants to take in part in local and national elections and recommend that tenants register as soon as they take up occupation. Find out how to register to vote.

Waste collections

Your landlord should provide you with somewhere to put your household waste. You can find out when your bin will collected.

For larger items the council has a bulky waste collection service. Please check the large items page for more information about this service.

Support for private tenants

The private housing advice service, accredited by the Legal Services Commission, offers a free, confidential and independent service to people who live in private sector accommodation in Tower Hamlets.

Our main role is to prevent homelessness. The earlier you contact us, the more likely it is we can prevent, or solve, your homelessness issue. Please do not wait until you are actually homeless before contacting us. 

The housing advice service can see you if you are a:

  • tenant of a private landlord
  • tenant of a housing association (also known as a registered social landlord)
  • homeowner (but not council leaseholder)

If you are a council tenant with a housing problem that needs attention from the council in its capacity as a landlord, you should contact your neighbourhood housing office, email housing.advice@towerhamlets.gov.uk or the relevant service area of the council.

Retaliatory evictions

The Deregulation Act 2015, which came into effect on 1 October 2015 brings a number of changes to the regulation of private tenancies in England and Wales one of which is with 'retaliatory evictions'.

A 'retaliatory eviction' or 'revenge eviction' is where the landlord/agent evicts a tenant because the tenant has complained of disrepair in the property. The Act provides protection for tenants by making these evictions illegal if the local authority has served an Improvement Notice.

This only applies to private tenancies let on or since 1 October 2015. You can read more about this on the revenge evictions page.

Contact information

Email: Housinglicensing@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Tel: 020 7364 5008

Write to:

Environmental Health and Trading Standards
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
John Onslow House
1 Ewart Place
London
E3 5EQ

Useful links

Fire, Gas and Electrical Safety

Property Licensing Conditions

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Property Licensing Enforcement

Legislation

General Information