Boris attacks Ken's plans for private rented sector
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has hit back at election rival Ken Livingstone’s plans for rent controls in the capital saying they would be ‘devastating for the sector’.
Mr Livingstone, the Labour candidate for mayor in May’s election, this morning confirmed that if elected he will introduce a ‘living rent’ aimed at improving conditions and affordability in the private rented sector.
Mr Johnson said he has introduced a rents map to give tenants more information on fair rents in their local area, but drew the line at introducing rent controls.
A spokesperson for the mayor said: ‘The proposal of rent controls would be devastating for the sector. Rent controls were ended in the UK because they were counterproductive.
‘Whatever the ideological appeal, the mayor does not have the power to introduce them and even if he did they would be devastating for the construction industry.
‘It would result in fewer homes being built and lead landlords to invest less in stock. Other major international cities such as New York are removing rent controls for precisely these reasons.’
Speaking at a National Housing Federation conference this morning, Mr Johnson pledged to ‘step up the pace’ of affordable house building in the capital.
He said the capital is on course to deliver a ‘record’ 50,000 new homes in the current mayoral term. Of these, 40,000 have been built through the 2008-11 investment round.
Mr Johnson said 55,000 homes will be built in total between 2011 and 2015.
The Mayor’s revised housing strategy, published in August, contains proposals to accredit private landlords, help first time buyers and a pledge to launch a board to tackle overcrowding.
Mr Livingstone this morning claimed housing activity in the capital was at an 83-year-low and referred to recent data from the Homes and Communities Agency showing that just 56 homes were started in the capital in the first six months of the year.
But Mr Johnson said stories about a fall in supply were ‘profoundly misleading.’
He said there has been £2.7 billion worth of new orders for housing construction in the last 12 months – the highest total since the 1980s. He also said there has been a 46 per cent increase in affordable housing starts this year compared to 2007-08, when Mr Livingstone was mayor, and said the number of affordable housing completions is expected to be 16,000, the highest annual figure since the mid-1990s.