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  • "There is no legal requirement for Landlords to join the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme so this is irrelevant.

    Assured Shorthold Tenancies do not need to be witnessed so, whilst it was stupid (if true) for Cllr Hart to have witnessed a document in advance of it being signed, it is not clear that any offence has actually been committed.

    As for multiple rent rises during the year, if the lease clearly allows the landlord to put the rent up multiple times, then no offence has been committed – even if most people would consider such a term to be unfair.

    And Boris isn’t a Judge, so for him to suggest that something is “prima facie illegal” without knowing the facts is also irrelevant. It is not actually clear whether Cllr Rayner has acted illegally. Unfairly? Perhaps. Dishonourably? Possibly. But the prisons are not big enough to house every dishonourable politician - especially if you include those who claimed tens of thousands in second homes allowances when they only lived a few miles from Westminster.

    If Rayner has broken the law, he will have to resign as Mayor. But the bottom line is this. Do not sign a lease (or any legal document) if you do not understand what it is that you are signing. It is no good bleating about it afterwards. If you don’t understand something, get a solicitor or go to Citizens Advice. Don’t try and save yourself a few quid on legal advice and then moan if the landlord did something he was allowed to do."
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POLL: Should Barnet Mayor Hugh Rayner resign?

Cllr Hugh Rayner

Cllr Hugh Rayner

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter - north London

This week, Barnet’s Mayor Hugh Rayner came under fire for the “unfair” way he has treated tenants living in the properties he owns.

Yesterday, Mayor of London Boris Johnson openly admitted Cllr Rayner’s behaviour has been “prima facie illegal” at the London Assembly’s Question Time.

Cllr Rayner, a Hale councillor, owns 15 properties in the Colindale area with his wife, Susan, and four more under his firm’s name – S&H Housing Limited.

So the Times Series is asking its readers: do you think he should carry on as Mayor?

GLA member for Barnet Andrew Dismore has made the following allegations against Cllr Rayner:

• He is not part of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, which Barnet Borough Council "urges" all landlords to be a part of

• He drafted 12-month contracts which permit rent increases by any amount during any time of year – and in one case, a mother was slapped with a three per cent hike without warning

• Turning up to a tenant’s house unannounced at 10pm at night, “pressuring” her to sign a new lease without reading it

• Using tenant’s children as translators

• Fellow Conservative Councillor John Hart was asked to pre-sign a lease without the tenant being present – something which is illegal

• Overcharging residents on housing benefit “to the detriment of the public purse”

When quizzed by the Times Series, Cllr Rayner told us:

• He “didn’t think it was necessary” to join the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme but that he would look into it

• He has since removed the clause about raising the rent

• He no longer asks witnesses to pre-sign contracts and only did this to save time

• The tenant could have asked him to “come back at a better time” if it was inconvenient and she wasn't pressured

• Children are only used as translators if their parents agree

• He no longer asks witnesses to pre-sign contracts as he appreciates it’s incorrect practice

• Rent has always been in line with the prevailing local housing allowance rates

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