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Boris Johnson’s soft touch approach to regulation leaves London’s renters at the mercy of landlords

Six months on from the launch of Boris Johnson’s flagship London Rental Standard Labour London Assembly Housing Spokesperson Tom Copley AM has accused the Mayor of leaving London’s renters “at the mercy of landlords.” Mr Copley’s comments come on the same day that Parliament is expected to vote to ban revenge evictions by landlords.

The London Rental Standard, launched by Boris Johnson six months ago today, set voluntary standards that the Mayor expects from landlords. The scheme aims to have 100,000 London landlords voluntarily signed up by 2016, yet the number of landlords accredited by the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme – the largest accreditation scheme in the capital – has only 13,499 landlords according to the most recent City Hall figures. 

The number of landlords signed up has increased by just 2,892 since the 2012 Mayoral election - from 10,607 in May 2012 to 13,499 to date according to the most recent figures.

Over the same period conditions for the capital’s renters have dramatically deteriorated. Since 2011 private sector rents have increased by 21% and recent estimates found that 39% of private rented sector tenants now live in poverty - a larger share than in either the social or owner-occupying tenures. Housing organisation Shelter has also reported a 47% increase in private sector tenant complaints in London since 2008 (to 18,700 a year) illustrating the demand for increased support for tenants.

Mr Copley said the Mayor’s voluntary approach had failed, highlighting for example a recent case of residents on the New Era estate in Hackney who were told by their landlords, Westbrook holdings, that their rents could triple, forcing many to move out.

London Assembly Labour Housing Spokesperson Tom Copley AM said:

“Six months on and even on the Mayor’s own terms, the London Rental Standard is failing. Boris Johnson pledged to get 100,000 landlords signed up yet to date only 13,500 landlords have joined the scheme. With 40% of private sector renters living in poverty, rents rising and complaints soaring, Boris’ soft touch approach does little to help the majority of London’s renters. Without proper statutory protection, many renters are left at the mercy of landlords.

“Instead of another empty voluntary initiative we need to see real action to ensure decent standards and fair treatment in the private rented sector. Today MPs have the opportunity to make a small but welcome step in the right direction by outlawing revenge evictions of tenants. The Mayor should be lobbying the Government for far greater protection and stability for renters.

“Whilst most landlords treat their tenants properly, cases like the New Era estate in Hackney, where residents face rents tripling overnight, make it clear the current system of voluntary regulation just isn't working.”

 

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