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New survey reveals Southall’s South Asian renters facing challenge to find safe and affordable homes

Research conducted with South Asian residents in Southall has found that local private renters are facing challenging issues when finding safe and affordable homes in the area.

Working with Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma, housing campaigners Generation Rent analysed data from a survey conducted with 120 private renters that took place in April 2023.

Mr Sharma’s office and Generation Rent held a community event at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Southall where local residents were invited to take part in the survey. According to Generation Rent, around three quarters of those who took part in the survey said they were Sikhs and a quarter said they were Hindu.

Click here to read the full Generation Rent Southall report.

Among the key findings covering affordability of housing, overcrowding, documents and treatment from landlord or letting agency, Generation Rent discovered:

  • 80.7% of respondents said they had struggled to find an affordable home to rent in Southall.
  • 57.5% said their rent had increased in the previous six months before completing the survey. £200 was the average increase of those whose rent had gone up.
  • 31.8% said their landlord had threatened them with an unaffordable rent increase.
  • 70.3% said that they had found it more difficult to afford the rent in the last few months prior to completing the survey, with 37.3% of respondents saying they had found it “a lot” more difficult.
  • 15.6% of private renters live in households with more than 2 people per bedroom, putting them in danger of living in overcrowded conditions.
  • 37.3% said they had not received any of six important documents they are entitled to from their landlord.
  • 61.9% reported that they had not even been given a written tenancy agreement by their landlord or letting agent.
  • 14.5% revealed their landlord or letting agent had entered their home without permission.
  • 13.3% reported concern about being evicted from their home.
  • 8.4% reported that their landlord had threatened them with an eviction
  • 8.4% reported that their landlord refused to do repairs.

EALING.NEWS spoke to Ben Twomey, CEO of Generation Rent to find out more:

How did the report come about and why did you do it?
It is vital that marginalised private renters are included in our work and as Southall is also home to London’s largest Sikh community, we thought it important to conduct this research. We therefore worked with the MP for Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma, and his office to better understand the experiences of the South Asian community of Southall.

What do you think are they key takeaways from your report?
The lack of availability of properties meant that many local private renters are being forced to endure high rents they have no choice but to pay. As well as this, the high risk of overcrowding amongst many of the participants, as well as issues in getting landlords to carry out repairs and their illegal entering of the property, demonstrate a clear need for improved regulation of privately rented homes locally.

What impact do you think your report will have?
We are working with the MP for Ealing Southall, Virendra Sharma, to make sure that the report reaches through to politicians and key decision makers. It is vital that local research such as this, especially focusing on marginalised groups often excluded from these discussions, feeds through into the Renters (Reform) Bill currently going through Parliament.

What are your concerns over housing in Southall?
There simply are not enough homes available for people in Southall. This means that local renters are often forced to endure unaffordable rents and poor conditions or, in the most dire of circumstances, to face homelessness.

What will you be campaigning for in Southall for the community?
We are campaigning for private renters in Southall, London and around the UK, to make sure that they can access secure, quality and affordable housing.

What do you think will come out of the report?
We are fighting to make sure that the experiences of those in the report will be used to inform the current reforms now going through Parliament as well as future policies, campaigns and laws necessary in finally making private renting fairer, safer and more secure.

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