London’s turning – Towards a sustainable private rented sector under the new Mayor

Today Generation Rent publishes 'London's Turning: Towards a sustainable private rented sector under the new Mayor', our call on Sadiq Khan to act rapidly and boldly in his response to the capital's housing crisis.

The policy document comes alongside work we have done outlining the increase in families and first-time buyers moving out of London in recent years, as a result of the high cost of housing. Read more about that research here.

Against this background, ‘London’s Turning’ urges the Mayor to go further and faster on reforming private renting by making it a secure tenure that Londoners can build a home in. In particular, it raises the issue of London’s high rents, which have been ignored in policy terms for many years.

Alongside suggesting a model for the London Living Rent on new developments, it also asks the Mayor to extend the principle of reduced costs to the rest of the private rented sector. The call is for a large-scale investigation into different models of rent control, considering international examples and thinking about the current consistency of London’s private rented sector.

Regarding his other manifesto commitments, it sets out principles by which a social lettings agency should run, and outlines how to make the ‘first dibs for Londoners’ approach to new housing fair.

It is now widely recognised that the Mayor needs further powers over housing if he is to truly get to grips with the crisis across London. While negotiations over the exact form of devolution take place with central government, we urge him to be bold, calling for powers to:

  • Approve local authority landlord licensing schemes and require landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties to C or above by 2025.
  • Set terms of private tenancies to give renters better security and protection from rent rises
  • Provide better support to low income families dependent on housing benefit
  • Outlaw discrimination against low-income households
  • Build more council homes in London

Not only is the housing crisis the most urgent issue facing London, and one which will continue hit London’s mixed communities, economy and future livelihood, there is also the feeling that the political mandate now exists for radical change, and indeed, that it is expected by London’s private tenants.

Change genuinely cannot come overnight, but if the Mayor can be radical on affordable housing (looking for it to comprise 50% of all new starts, compared with last year’s figures of 13%), then he can also break with past policy on the private rented sector.

There are over two million private renters in London, comprising people from across the city’s socio-economic spectrum, including many of the poorest people in the capital. Compared with those in social housing or those who have been able to buy, these Londoners are demonstrably getting a bad deal and deserve housing that is affordable and secure.

The report is called ‘London’s turning’ because the growth of the private rented sector has changed the way people experience London in recent decades.

At first a gradual turn, that change is now having seriously negative social consequences, with residents having to settle for poor conditions in places they can afford, or being forced to suddenly leave a community when a landlord evicts, or just struggling to get by because of the cost of rent.

If we want the city’s next ‘turn’ to be a positive one, the Mayor must be making the case for further action on the private rented sector, for its tenants and for the future sustainability of the city.

Write to Sadiq Khan today to make that a reality.

For updates and to get more involved in campaigning in London, you can also join our London Facebook group here.


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