East London MP demands action after Tower Hamlets tenants protest over rent hikes

An East London MP has called on the government to take action after residents saw their rent and service charges soar. Residents living in Tower Hamlets Community Housing said they are seeing an unfair rise in the cost of living at their homes, while also having to deal with what campaigners called “slum” housing.

Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum said housing associations should be accountable to tenants to make sure they were being fairly treated. Residents living in buildings run by THCH in Tower Hamlets held a protest outside the group’s offices on March 30 in opposition to soaring costs.

Residents have reported bins not being collected, repairs not being made and even a ceiling collapsing. They also said their service charges have increased by 120 per cent, while rent has risen by five per cent.

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Apsana Begum said new regulations were needed to take action

Apsana Begum MP said action should be taken to help residents having to deal with these issues as the cost of living continues to rise. She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I’ve been in contact with constituents and I have been in a lot of discussion with them.

“It is incredibly concerning that people are having to face charges increasing between 30 per cent and 120 per cent. We have the largest hikes in social rents in over a decade. So I think there does need to be a change on a national level in terms of how people are able to access a property tribunal, how they’re able to access it in a way that is simplified, that is less burdensome on individuals themselves.

“At the moment it’s guidance – it’s not properly enforced… There isn’t accountability at the moment, and I think that can only be properly enforced – but how does that happen? It’s the regulatory bodies that need to be empowered.”

Campaign group Justice for THCH Residents organised the protest on March 30, and argued the cost and quality of their housing was unacceptable. A spokesperson for the group said: “This is the second year that the social landlord has increased service charges by the highest of any housing association in the country.

“Now [during] the catastrophic cost of living crisis THCH have decided to increase service charges by up to 120%. People are struggling to eat and heat their homes and our slum landlord have increased charges massively for absolutely no reason or justification.” The Local Democracy Reporting Service Contacted THCH and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for comment.

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