Islington North candidates pushed on housing policies at hustings ahead of election

Private renter protection, landlord registers and social housing were top of the agenda as Islington North candidates were questioned by voters on Wednesday.

With the Labour and Conservative candidates not in attendance, voters heard plans for housing in Islington from the Liberal Democrats, Greens and independent candidate and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a community centre in Islington, candidates were quizzed by an audience of around 50 activists, campaigners, and residents.

Speaking after the hustings, Corbyn said: “I want private renters to have safety and security in their tenancies.

“Section 21 no fault evictions are an absolute terror for people living in the private rental sector.

“I want to end the insecurity and end the terror by bringing security of tenure.”

In their opening statements, candidates outlined their priorities for housing in Islington.

Liberal Democrat candidate Vikas Aggarwal said: “Islington is one of the most unaffordable places to live in all of London for private rent.

“It excludes young people, it excludes those on the lowest incomes that may not be eligible for housing benefit and even those that are but there is not enough stock.”

Wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘build more bloody houses,’ Aggarwal outlined the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to solve these issues by building 380,000 a year across the UK, including 150,000 social homes a year.

Green candidate Sheridan Kates instead focused on the Greens’ commitment to invest £29bn over the next five years to insulate homes to EPC B standard or above.

Kates said: “The climate crisis is upon us and people need safe, warm homes and people should not be having to chose between eating and heating their homes.”

The three Islington North candidates agreed with many housing policies, such as the banning of no-fault evictions, but disagreed over rent controls, house building and Right to Buy.

The latest mortgage and landlord possession statistics, published by the Ministry of Justice last month, show Landlord possession actions are at their highest levels since the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the hustings all candidates agreed they would ban Section 21 notices, known as no fault evictions.

The candidates showed disagreement on the issue of rent controls, where a limit is placed on the amount a landlord can charge for rent.

The policy has been proposed by the Mayor of London but does not feature in the Labour Party’s manifesto.

Corbyn and Kates said they would support legislation as soon as possible to allow councils to introduce and manage rent restrictions.

Meanwhile, Aggarwal argued that rent controls could drive down the availability of the rental market, and instead reiterated the Lib Dems’ plans for house building.

The Right to Buy policy, where council tenants can buy their council home at a discount, was another area where the candidates differed.

While Corbyn and Kates said they would completely ban the scheme, Aggarwal proposed that tenants should be allowed to buy their council home after living in it for 30 years.

Islington North’s Conservative and Labour candidates, Karen Anne Harries and Praful Nargund (respectively) did not respond to the organiser’s invitation to attend.

Organisers said the Labour and Conservative candidates did not respond to invitations to participate, prompting criticism from all candidates present at the hustings.

Islington Labour and Islington Conservatives did not response to requests for comment.  

Andover community centre with scaffolding
ACORN’s Islington North housing hustings took place in Andover Community Centre. Andover Estate is undergoing its own redevelopment, to build 42 new council homes.

The hustings were hosted by the Islington branch of non-party affiliated community union ACORN.

The union invited candidates to commit to its four housing demands: introducing rent controls; ending unfair evictions; making all homes safe and healthy; and building more council housing.

Josh White ACORN Islington Secretary said: “We want all candidates to support much needed changes in Islington North to crackdown on black mould and take the fight to rogue landlords.”

The full list of candidates in Islington North is as follows:

  • Vikkas Aggarwal – Liberal Democrat
  • Jeremy Corbyn – Independent
  • Karen Harries – Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Paul Josling – Independent
  • Sheridan Kates – Green Party
  • Praful Nargund – Labour Party
  • Martyn Nelson – Reform UK

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