The BBC’s Watchdog program recently turned its attention to private lettings. The program shed light on the various unsavory practices of some of the UK’s lettings agents. One of these practices is when agents create letting contracts which insist the tenants use certain utility companies. In return for the additional business, the utility companies are offering the agents a handsome reward.
It has been reported that one in ten tenants are being illegally stopped by their landlords or agents from switching utility suppliers.
In typical Watchdog style no one was safe from the investigation. Some well-known agency names, including large chains were among those implicated by the programme.
So what are the Rules?
At present aside from the Ombudsman there are no official regulators of lettings agencies, which means that Tenants and landlords are largely being left to fend for themselves.
Here at the Islington Company, we pride ourselves on being transparent. That’s why we will never add a ‘preferred supplier’ clause to any of our Tenancy agreements. Also part of this transparency is our belief that it’s our duty to provide Tenants and Landlords with as much information as possible regarding their rights.
So we did a little digging of our own and here’s what we found out:
The Energy regulator Ofgem says:
“Tenants should be made aware by landlords and letting agents of any tie-ins with specific suppliers and should receive appropriate details at the outset of applicable tariffs and charging details.”
“If the tenant is directly responsible for paying the gas and/or electricity bills, they have the right to choose their own energy supplier, and the landlord or letting agent should not unreasonably prevent this”
“Landlords or letting agents should not sign up tenants with preferred suppliers without the tenants’ full knowledge of, or agreement to, such arrangements.”
We also contacted Trading Standards, who said:
“The Tenant should have the choice of supplier, although they may be required to keep the landlord informed of any change and to return the account to the original supplier at the end of the tenancy.”
So there you have it. Despite what some agencies would have you believe, if you are directly responsible for paying the bills, you have the right to choose whom you pay.
London is well known for its nightlife. Clubs such as Ministry of Sound, Fabric and Club Aquarium have provided a place to party like a rock star since the early 90’s. But now there is a new trend keeping London up at night. The last few years have seen a surge of speakeasies take over the city. With secret entrances in the most unexpected places, these hard-to-find hotspots have had Londoners heading to the underground for some subterranean fun!
So for those who are looking for a new way to party we’d like to introduce you to the secret side of London: clandestine clubbing at its finest...
Evans & Peel Detective Agency
At first glance you might be mistaken in thinking that Evans and Peel Detective Agency is exactly that. Enter through a seemingly innocuous door off of Earls Court Road and you will find yourself in a 1920’s style office presenting your ‘case’ to the friendly receptionist. Once the formalities are out of the way the true nature of Evans and Peel is revealed through a secret bookcase/doorway… Inside you’ll find a basement bar serving ‘American Tapas’ and ingenious cocktails such Tanqueray infused with lavender, earl grey and orange bitters. And if you’re a fan of Beer their London Pale Ale served through an antique radiator is definitely not to be missed!
Opening hours: Tue-Thu 17:00 - 0:00 / Fri-Sat 17:00 - 0:30
Contact: 020 7373 3573
Address: 310c Earl's Court Road, London SW5 9BA
Transport: Earl's Court, West Brompton or Gloucester Road station
If you’re looking for some rum and subterranean fun, make your way down to ‘Off Broadway’ in Hackney. Upon entering the toilet and pulling the old-fashioned loo chain, the wall will swing open to reveal a low-ceilinged, candlelit basement rum shack. Holding 50 of the worlds’ finest rums and making some of the best cocktails in the east; Portside Parlour is East London’s first and finest underground rum cocktail bar.
Address: Basement Bar – 63-65 Broadway Market London E8 4PH
Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday – 7pm – 12pm Friday-Saturday – 7pm – 2am Sunday 7pm – 12pm
Transport: London Fields, Haggerston or Hackney station.
Futuristic neon-lit stairs betray the presence of this secret club; hosted in a cleverly converted Victorian loo. With room for just 60 this compact cocktail haven boasts musical-theatre, cabaret crooners, drag queens, cocktails and flavoured snuff for sale.
Opening hours: 4pm-1am, first show 9pm
Address: Zero Aldwych, London, WC2E 7DN
Transport: Covent Garden Tube
Part dinner party, part alternate reality; Gingerline HQ is a clandestine dining adventure held in a secret location along the East London Line (or 'ginger line', as they call it). With the destination and concept is as mysterious as the menu, visitors can expect to be transported anywhere from Siberian circuses to submarine mess halls courtesy of this immersive dining experience.
Opening hours: Tue - Sat from 7pm-10.30pm
Address: it’s a secret!
Transport: wait near any station on the East London Line (London Overground stations between Highbury and Islington and Crystal Palace) at 6pm on the evening of your booking; you'll receive a text message telling you where to go.
Taking inspiration from the works of Lewis Carroll, Callooh Callay offers drinkers an expedition into the unexpected. An enchanting range of uniquely blended drinks await those curious enough to enter the wardrobe door Narnia-style to discover the secret speakeasy that awaits inside.Winners of the ‘World’s Best Cocktail Menu 2012’ and listed as the ‘9th Best Bar in the World’ Calooh Callay Is one city secret that is definitely worth sharing.
Opening hours: Sun to Wed 6pm – 12am / Thurs, Fri & Sat 6pm – 1am
Contact: 020 7739 4781
Address: 65 Rivington Street, London EC2 3AY
Transport: Old Street, Shoreditch high Street and Hoxton stations
Everyone who is anyone in the world of British comedy has been drawn to tread the boards at the Union Chapel.
Since June 2007 ‘Live At The Chapel’ has been putting a smile on the face of Islington, with acts such as Ed Byrne, Noel Fielding, Frankie Boyle, Russell Howard, Stephen Merchant, Reginald D Hunter, Simon Amstell, Josie Long, Mark Watson, Stewart Lee and Tim Key to name a few.
Produced and promoted by The Invisible Dot, and held at the stunning Union Chapel, it is one of the biggest and best comedy clubs in the country. Built in the late 19th century in the Gothic revival style, the Grade I-listed church has earned a reputation as one of London's finest venues and was voted ‘London's favourite Live Music Venue’ in 2012 by Timeout readers.
October's rib tickling show will be headlined by the award winning Pajama Men (Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez) an American character comedy duo from New Mexico. The pair are renowned for their split-second character changes, comedic timing and of course performing their unique brand of physical comedy in their pyjamas. Winners of the prestigious Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Best Newcomer and Best of the Fest at The Sydney Comedy Festival they were also the highest rated show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe out of over 2000 acts. With support from Nick Helm, Nish Kumar & More, this night is definitely not to be missed!
For tickets and more information visit:
Venue: Union Chapel
Opening Times: Doors and bar open at 6.30pm.
Contact: The Invisible Dot – Tel: 020 7424 8918 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roller Disco is alive and kicking in Kings Cross! So dust off your disco balls and get ready to join in the latest trend…
Bored of ordinary? Skate Kings Cross brings you a fun day out for all the family!
For the last 8 weeks the West Handyside Canopy has been home to ‘Skate Kings Cross’ Roller Rink, a place where young and old can take part in the latest craze that’s taking the capital by storm.
There is something for everyone; from skate sessions where kids can learn the basics, to pro demos by the on-site marshals. And for the over 18s there’s ‘8 till late’ music nights featuring guest DJs on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you need a pit stop, onsite restaurant Disco Bistro serves 'upmarket fast food creations' including - rare breed beef burgers with pineapple bacon jam. Aternatively, If the weather permits, you can visit the outdoor bar and grill at Shrimpy’s for tortillas and frozen margaritas.
The rink itself, which is designed by award winning boutique architecture studio - Felix & Merlin aims to recreate the energy that surrounded the legendary Bagley’s roller disco of the early 2000’s whilst celebrating the redevelopment of this historic space. Heavy, raw materials help support the structure whilst gold chainmail helps channel disco spirits past.
Skate Kings Cross runs until Saturday 7th September so don’t miss out! Head to West Handyside Canopy for a bit of old-school cool!
For opening times, tickets and more information please visit www.skatekingscross.com
There are two major rail terminals in close proximity - King’s Cross and St Pancras International. Euston station is also just 500 metres away. International rail from St Pancras International - Eurostar direct from Paris, Brussels and Lille.
There are six tube lines interchanging at King’s Cross (Circle, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Northern, Metropolitan and Victoria).
There are 14 bus routes in close proximity. The routes are numbers 10, 17, 30, 45, 46, 59, 63, 73, 91, 205, 214, 259, 390 and 476.
There is an 800-space bike interchange located between King’s Cross and St Pancras International Station. The Barclays Cycle Hire’s docking station is situated in the King’s Cross area.
The Islington Company is situated almost directly across the road from Steve Hatt fishmongers store on Essex Road. It is a privilege in its own right to share a high street with a local business that first opened its door in 1895 and has been an integral part of the community ever since.
Every day when we come to work the long standing experienced Steve Hatt team is already there waving a ‘good day’ to us. Each Saturday a stretched line of regular customers persists almost around the block for the entire morning.
It is very inspiring that Steve Hatt has kept up the sterling reputation of the iconic store and remains popular in an age where supermarkets have spelled the decline for many businesses of its kind.
The selection of first class fresh fish is mind blowing and so great that one is likely to be spoilt for choice. One should be proud to recognise half of the fish on display. Expect prime examples of wild Scottish halibut, bluefin tuna, gilt head bream, prawns, scallops, fresh samphire as well as lobster, mussels and crab.
This is a perfect reason to make a detour from Upper Street and shop local!
Article by Vaida Filmanaviciute at The Islington Company
Images by photographer Aida Nedzelskyte