Tenants are in danger of being pushed out of Waltham Forest by a “wild west” rental market, a housing body has warned.
Changes to housing benefit and astronomical rent rises have resulted in many people moving out of neighbouring boroughs such as Hackney and Tower Hamlets.
This has created increased demand in Waltham Forest and there are fears a lack of controls on landlords could see many priced out of the area.
Former Hackney resident, Rosie Walker, helped to set up the group Waltham Forest Renters, which offers advice and support to tenants.
She has seen a rise in people seeking assistance and says some are in a desperate situation as landlords exploit rising demand.
She said: “In the last couple of years, thousands of us have been pushed out of our homes in Hackney and other boroughs by a 'wild west' rental market.
“Rents rocketed, landlords were allowed to bully and evict for no reason, and the council failed to enforce standards.
Lots of us have sought refuge here in Waltham Forest, but without proper intervention we're going to see the same thing happening here.
“Housing is too important to be left to an unfettered market. At a local level, we need compulsory landlord licensing and trained tenancy relations officers who have the time and resources to go after bad landlords.”
Miss Walker says she is regularly contacted by people struggling to cope with large rent hikes.
She added: "We get people coming to us saying their landlord is putting the rent up by 30% and asking what they can do about it, and we have to be the bearer of bad news.
“We advise people on how to handle the situation and help point them in the right direction. It is terrible, especially for families.
Miss Walker welcomed a Labour proposal to abolish charges by letting agents, but said much more needs to be done.
“First we've got to get those in power to understand the problem, and that's hard when so many of them are landlords themselves. But a third of Waltham Forest rents privately, and our numbers are only going to grow,” she added.
A decision on whether to require all landlords to be registered to protect tenants’ rights will be taken by Waltham Forest Council in July.