Rented London: How local authorities can support private renters

Local council elections are taking place in London in a few months. And just like the 2016 Mayoral race, these contests will be dominated by the city's housing crisis. From Haringey to Kensington and Chelsea, Londoners are looking for secure and affordable homes, and asking their councils to respond.

As manifestos are written, Generation Rent has published Rented London: How local authorities can support private renters. It is a five-point plan, based on minimal resources, to ensure that councils are doing what they are able to with existing powers to improve the private rented sector.

The report calls on councils to:

1. Implement borough-wide landlord licensing

2. Produce and carry out a strategic plan for enforcement against poor conditions in the PRS

3. Ensure council communications are correctly targeted at renters and make them aware of their rights

4. Support campaigns for national reform by providing evidence and insight about the PRS where they are

5. Ensure build-to-rent is affordable for local residents and matches different household types

Taking forward these actions would require some initial investment, but would be repaid over time through penalties and housing enforcement against the worst landlords, allowing councils to expand their environmental health and trading standards teams.

Furthermore, national campaigns to make renting affordable and secure need the evidence that councils can provide, and their political support.

Last week's English Housing Survey showed that the number of first-time buyers continues to fall in London, and the average rent is £309 per week. 1 million private renters in London are living in poverty, and 1 in 10 PRS homes are hazardous.

It is on this last point that local authorities are particularly able to act, and must show the willing and focus to do so. Very often, and with good reason, public debate on housing in the capital focuses on new developments, and the lack of genuinely affordable housing being provided to Londoners.

But the private renting crisis is much more hidden, and is affecting increasing numbers of people each year. At these local elections, councils must show their residents they understand this, and match that with actions, not just words.

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  • Rob Thomas
    commented 2018-03-01 14:24:48 +0000
    You call for a borough wide licencing scheme across London. Who do you think will end up paying the hundreds of pounds per property in licence fees that every landlords would be forced to pay regardless of the condition of their properties? Since you seem to be economic illiterates, let me spell it out. When you put up the cost of doing business, businesses will want to pass on those costs to their customers, in this case tenants.

    I thought you believed that tenants were paying too much in rent already – but your policies will push rents up further. Not very clever.

    Generation Rent’s answer to every question in the PRS is more regulation. You don’t ever seem to understand that the most powerful weapon in the hands of tenants is the ability to shop around and choose where to spend their rent money. If you think the choice available to London tenants is poor now, what do you think it will be like when all the new regulations you have been pushing for come into effect, leading many landlords to sell up?