Today (Wednesday 28th May) in Haringey, London Mayor Boris Johnson launches his refreshed London Rental Standard, an accreditation scheme for landlords. We're not impressed and doubt this scheme will help one single tenant.
It is estimated that an estimated £600,000 will be spent on what is little more than a PR campaign and with no evidence that any voluntary accreditation scheme of landlords has ever achieved any benefit to anyone. We can't think of a single accreditation scheme in the UK that has had more than a 6% take up and I don't think the combined membership of the two national associations of landlords reaches even 4%.
Our understanding is that the only landlords who will sign up to the scheme are those who are compliant in the first case, and will therefore be of no benefit to tenants.
On the matter of the standards themselves, there is very little diversion in the London Rental Standard from what is already a legal minimum standard, which is itself a worryingly low bar. All the non-compliant landlords are pretty much already breaking the law and the £600,000 would probably have been better spent supporting local authority Environment Health enforcement teams, who really do drive up standards using existing laws.
About 2 million Londoners live in the private rented sector and many of them are being exploited. Because of the high demand and low supply of homes for rent, landlords know they can get away with letting people live in cramped, damp or cold conditions, be slow to undertake repairs and to charge eye-watering rents. The very worst landlords are often those with the poorest and most vulnerable tenants, those who really don't have much choice where they live.
As a renter in London I'm disappointed Boris hasn't taken the issue of tenants' conditions seriously when so many Londoners need him to do so. As a taxpayer I'm outraged that £600,000 of our money should be spent on a pointless PR campaign.