Ken Livingstone calls for government action to tackle housing crisis facing Brent residents

Borough has one of the highest numbers of families waiting for social housing in London

London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has said the government must take serious note of the scale of the housing crisis currently facing Brent residents.

The Labour candidate was at Brent Private Tenants Rights Group (BPRTG) in Willesden this morning (Friday) to meet tenants and launch a resident protecting scheme.

Claiming the housing situation was ‘appalling’ and had grown ‘out of control’, he said: “What we are seeing is a mass exodus of people who simply cannot afford to live in certain areas.

“It shouldn’t be that the only people who can afford to live in central London are the rich and the poorer are reduced to sub standard facilities in outer London borough’s like this.

“In the last six months only 56 decent homes were built across the whole of London with more than one people million waiting. We should be building thousands every year”

The tenants’ charter will aim to speak up for tenants, whether private or social, and will promote a minimum standard in all sectors that residents should expect from their landlords.

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Around 16,000 families are on the borough’s waiting list for social housing – one of the highest numbers in London.

Jacky Peacock, director of BPRTG, who represent 25,000 private renters in the borough, said it was a relief that politicians had started to take notice of the issue.

She said: “The main problem here is people who simply don’t know their rights as tenants and consequently are losing out.

“It’s a common misconception that people on housing benefits do not work, many of our tenants are workers but their salary still doesn’t cover their rent.”

During the meeting, Mr Livingstone, who lives in Cricklewood, spoke to tenants about their issues and concerns.

One who spoke out included Kensal Rise resident Michele Santerano, who claimed he and his girlfriend are illegally forced to share a bathroom and kitchen between seven people.

In addition, Mr Livingstone also launched an online petition calling for a London Living Rent so that no resident is spending more than a third of their salary on rent.

He continued: “The average Londoner pays 60 per cent of their salary on rent.

Cllr Mary Arnold, lead member for children and families at Brent council told the Times that she had noticed huge problems.

The Kilburn ward councillor said: “We really will need all the help we can get from the mayor to try and rectify this.”