Mayor of London Boris Johnson has released the final version of his London Rental Standard, which is asking landlords and letting agents to sign up for voluntary accreditation.
Letting agents must have client money protection insurance and a transparent fee policy.
Johnson has not banned letting agent fees or set a rent control despite massive pressure.
Any landlords or letting agents accredited under London council schemes will have their membership ‘passported’ into the LRS.
Johnson has set a target of signing up 100,000 landlords for accreditation by 2016 – although it’s not clear if this includes those who will join up under the passport scheme.
The aim of the LRS is to set benchmarks for rents, fees and living standards for landlords, letting agents and tenants.
The mayor’s office considers LRS important to London as around one in four of the capital’s residents live in rented accommodation.
Many are students from all over the UK and abroad.
Johnson said: “With more and more of this city’s workforce living in rented accommodation, London’s growing private rented sector is essential to London’s economy.
“While most landlords provide a highly professional service, this more co-ordinated and transparent approach will create a more competitive market, empowering tenants and incentivising landlords to expect and provide a consistent high-quality service.
“Better standards and boosting supply is the key to taking the pressure off London’s rental market, not burdensome rent controls which deter investment and remove the incentive for good service.”
The scheme has been broadly welcomed by organisations representing landlords, letting agents and tenants.
However, the major contention when LRS was first announced was setting rent controls, and this part of the scheme has been dropped in the watered down final version.
In reality, despite the hue and cry, what London has got with LRS is a citywide landlord accreditation scheme that will work in much the same way as schemes run by separate councils.
That will save landlords and letting agents money as they now only have to comply with one set of rules if they deal with properties across two or more boroughs.