Rogue Subletting Damage Industry Reputation
Subletting is often seen with a negative light. Incidents such as the raid on a location in London’s East End do little to help. Twenty three people were crammed into a three bedroom home only licensed for seven. The Guardian posted an opinion piece on the debacle, calling for a stop of “the return of the slum landlord”.
Such articles are damaging to the confidence of those in, or looking into, the shared accommodation industry. They create a mire of uncertainty, lowering interest for those considering entering, scaring many potential tenants away, and making it more difficult for letters to establish trust.
The landlady involved in the East End incident is unlikely to face courts for the violations in question. Indeed, it is rare for violations to face jail time for their actions. Situations like this, and the subsequent lack of legal intervention, are a factor in why the subletting and shared accommodation industries have a less than savoury reputation.
To help solve these issues, there needs to be an active effort to improve the image of the shared accommodation. A clean line in the sand is required, a way to distinguish the good from the questionable, whilst keeping those positive forces in the industry’s voices heard.
In times where the rogue agents are causing concern for all involved, it is necessary to strive to actively try to improve the image of this industry. This includes acknowledging the problematic areas, often glossed over or disregarded in discussion.
It is true that there are rogue agents who are ready to maximise their profits by overcrowding houses and flats. The lack of regulation leads to these subletters going unchecked, unless someone decides to report them. The repercussions are twofold.
Firstly, tenants suffer due to the lack of regulation. Whilst services exist that can help them raise concerns, there is no real way for them to discuss the issue openly. Many consider shared accommodation tenants to be compliant with the status quo, and it can be difficult to raise concerns without the threat of losing your residence.
Secondly, the shared accommodation agents are hit with the stigma of others’ actions within the industry. This in turns breeds distrust within their area, which in turn makes business more difficult to conduct. Standing out as a trustworthy agent in an industry often ill spoken of in the public eye is difficult, to say the least.
SAPA provides this distinction. By ensuring that all who receive certification adhere to a set of clear standards, we provide immediate quality assurance to those who would otherwise be wary of subletting.
There would be a guarantee of no overcrowding under our certification. We would not, however, silence the voice of those working in the industry. There is a balance to be made, and all SAPs deserve a chance to discuss their viewpoints on it.
Photographs: London Borough of Newham