Sadiq Khan, the newly elected London Mayor, has pledged to “get a grip on the private rented sector.”
Accusing his predecessor, Boris Johnson of ignoring official advice and pushing ahead with The London Landlords Accreditation scheme, which aimed to accredit 100,000 landlords, but which in fact, according to Khan, attracted just 1,800.
Speaking recently during a visit to a homelessness charity, and reported by Social Housing and Local Government news website 24Dash.com, London’s new mayor met families who have been suffering from poor conditions, high rents and insecurity in the private rented sector and criticised his predecessor for having been “asleep at the wheel”.
Khan says that immediately after entering City Hall, he instructed officials to “open up the books” and audit City Hall’s recent work in the private rented sector (PRS). This will include Boris Johnson’s “London Rental Standard”. This is a scheme which Johnson announced four years ago with a target of raising the number of accredited landlords to 100,000 by 2016.
However, says 24 Dash.com “damning new statistics and internal emails now show that not only has the London Rental Standard accredited fewer than 2,000 new landlords since its inception – but that the previous mayor had ignored clear and repeated advice that it was doomed to fail”.
Official internal advice that Khan claims was ignored by the previous mayor, included:
- A briefing in May 2012 sent to the mayor’s office that warned it would take “more than 50 years to accredit a sufficient number of landlords to meet the target”.
- A further briefing in October 2012 that warned the mayor that “we simply don’t have the resources to proactively enforce the London Rental Standard, which leaves us with an unacceptable reputational risk.”
- Further internal advice circulated between top officials in February 2013 warning that the 100,000 target was “clearly unrealistic and unachievable.”
Khan has set out his aim of improving conditions in the private rented sector, including supporting the extension of landlord licensing and ‘naming and shaming’ rogue landlords, but has warned there would be “no quick fixes”, given as he claims, “the scale of the problem left by Boris Johnson”.
“Everyone in London has either had a bad experience renting privately or knows people who have. I’ve met families who have had to move nearly a dozen times with their children because they can’t afford the rent or they have been treated terribly by their landlord. This is not good enough and I am determined to get a grip on the private rented sector.
“We know most landlords do a good and decent job – but we’ve got to stop those rogue landlords who are exploiting renters. I’ve got plans to take them on, but it’s very disappointing that little or no progress was made under the previous mayor. It seems that Boris Johnson was asleep at the wheel and ignored repeated warnings from officials that his plans were not working.
“We can’t stand by as thousands of renters are suffering high costs and low standards in London. That’s why I will make sure we build thousands of new affordable homes to both buy and rent, promote landlord licensing schemes across London, and ‘name and shame’ the rogue landlords who are letting Londoners down.”
Kahn’s four pronged attack on London’s housing problems as stated below was set-out before he was elected, so whether things will change when confronted by the scale of the problem and opposition in London remains to be seen, but an underlying theme appears to be some form of rent control, or the more polite way of putting it – “rent stabilisation”. Mr Khan expects to:
Khan’s Plan plans announced in his election campaign involve a four pronged attack on the PRS:
1. To introduce a ‘London Living Rent’ option for new affordable housing which will cap rents at a below-market level, based on the idea that rents should be around one-third of renters’ incomes and not half. This will, according to Khan, fill the gap between the new social housing he plans to build and homes for private sale or rent, allowing tenants to pay rent and save for a deposit.
2. Mr Khan is to establish a London-wide not-for-profit letting agency similar to those started by Labour councils such as Hackney and Islington. This agency’s aim is to provide an “alternative to private lettings agencies, while promoting longer-term tenancies and stable rents”.
3. There is to be a major crack down on rogue landlords and the Mayor’s office is to publish a regular list of the best and worst landlords in the capital.
4. There is to be a campaign for the power to freeze rents, and for new rules to make landlords do necessary repairs within a reasonable time, the failure of which would enable tenants to commission their own work and deduct the cost from the rent. Khan claims that a rent freeze over the last four years would have saved the average London renter £5,615 that could have been saved towards a deposit.
It will be interesting to see if after one or two terms as Mayor following Johnson, Khans plans will be more successful.
New Mayor to prioritise private renting… https://t.co/J0ar2QG2Au
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) June 13, 2016