Report calls for improvement of private sector
The London Assembly has today called for longer tenancies and incentives to improve stock in the private rented sector.
In the week when mayoral candidates Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone clashed over their plans for the private rented sector, the assembly has published its own proposals.
The assembly’s planning and housing committee’s report Bleak Houses suggests measures to improve affordability, security and standards in the private rented sector, which now represents around 850,000 homes in the capital.
The report calls for the mayor to develop an accreditation scheme which sets out minimum standards private landlords have to meet and a publicity campaign to raise awareness of the scheme among tenants. The report urges councils to only place people in properties belonging to landlords who meet the standards.
It also calls for:
- Government tax incentives to encourage landlords to improve their properties and to offer tenancies longer than six months
- The mayor to encourage councils to negotiate longer tenancy agreements with private landlords, with a minimum tenancy offer of five years
- Measures to incentivise landlords to take part in the accreditation scheme including relaxing licensing regulations where properties are managed by an accredited agent.
The report says £400 million is paid to private landlords in London annually.
Jenny Jones, Green Party member and chair of the Assembly’s planning and housing committee, said: ‘Families need certainty about where they will be living so that they can settle their children in schools and forge community links. In exchange for the hundreds of millions of pounds of public money they are receiving, private landlords must be compelled to provide certainty in the form of longer tenancies.’
Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone this week announced plans to improve conditions in the private rented sector by setting up a non-profit lettings agency if elected. This would seek to match ‘good’ landlords with ‘good’ tenants and give private landlords the confidence to offer longer tenancies. Mr Livingstone also pledged to campaign for a London Living Rent to make housing costs more affordable for private rented sector tenants.
Mr Johnson slammed the plans, saying rent controls would be ‘devastating’ for construction in the capital and would lead to shabbier accommodation as landlords seek to recoup their drop in income from lower rents.
Mr Johnson has announced plans to accredit private landlords. He said he has also published a rents map which gives tenants information about fair rents in their area.