The London Assembly is seeking devolved powers to enable it to “improve standards of private rented accommodation.”
At a meeting last week the Assembly voted for a motion which will put pressure on London mayor Sadiq Khan to prioritise the need for powers over the private rented sector in his devolution negotiations with the government.
The Public Sector Executive (PSE) reported that at present the way that the responsibility for licensing landlords and enforcing landlord and letting agent’s conduct is left to individual borough councils. The London Assembly has said that they do not always have the necessary resources to deal with this effectively.
Sian Berry AM, who proposed the motion, saying:
“My recent survey of London’s renters highlighted the desperate need they feel for better standards and regulation of the private rented sector to stop them being exploited by landlords.
“Further devolution of powers is an appropriate response to this need and has already proved to be successful in Wales and Scotland. There is no reason London cannot follow these positive models to implement consistent, city-wide standards for housing.”
Public Sector Executive stated that the text of the motion noted that Khan’s current negotiations “may not go far enough” regarding rental accommodation.
Assembly members want the Mayor to arrange meetings between his team and their counterparts in Wales and Scotland, devolved administrations which are being granted wider powers over rental accommodation, with a view to “learn about the benefits of this approach.” They want London to seek the same set of powers as these other regions.
Currently, PSE say over 2 million Londoners live in private rented accommodation, and according to housing charity Shelter, they say, 41% of all households in the capital will live in private rented accommodation by 2025. This would mean that private rented accommodation will be a bigger sector than the owner-occupier one for the first time since the 1960s.
The growth of rented accommodation in London is linked to rising house prices the PSE claim, with home ownership falling by 13.5% in London since its peak in October 2000.
Tom Copley AM, who seconded the motion, said that in an age when the number of renters is closing in on the number of homeowners, “it’s absurd that regulation remains so patchy”.
“Boroughs have shown willing but they’re lacking appropriate government funding and renters are confronted with a postcode lottery,” he added.
“Instead of forcing Londoners to put up with unreasonable letting agency fees, rogue landlords and poor standards, the government needs to give City Hall a greater hand in regulating the sector. We’ve seen it work effectively in other parts of the UK, it’s a matter of fairness that London’s renters should come to expect the same.”
The DCLG is currently consulting on proposals to expand councils’ mandatory licensing powers, meaning a greater range of rental properties will be subject to safety standards.
London Assembly wants powers to tackle landlords https://t.co/ayIzcjysmY
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) November 7, 2016