Perhaps unsurprisingly, Boris is not advocating for further regulation of the private rented sector (PRS). Boris argues:
More red tape, regulation and rent controls – is unthinkable given the disastrous impact it would have for the economic contribution of the sector.
So what is his solution for fixing a system which so badly serves many of the people living in it? Boris is proposing a voluntary system of self-regulation, called the London Rental Standard, which he argues will protect investment in the sector and improve standards in the sector.
But there is no evidence that self regulation actual works. You’re not going to get illegal landlords joining a voluntary scheme. When Newham trialed their licensing scheme as a voluntary option last year, about TWO percent of landlords signed up to it. We need compulsory landlord licensing.
Voluntary accreditation will not make not a difference in areas where demand far out weighs supply, as it does in most of inner London. The supply of affordable homes is so low that whether a landlord is accredited will have no traction. Tenants are not in an advantageous enough position for this to be significant.
Although private tenants are frequently described as ‘consumers’, decent housing is not a luxury item like a designer sofa or an indulgent European city break.
People have choice but to find somewhere to live which and for average London renters this means struggling to find something that is barely affordable in conditions that are only just bearable. Whether the landlord has a London Rental Standard (LRS) will be an insignificance.
If the tenant refuses the accommodation because the landlord doesn’t have a LRS, then it’ll just go to the next person in the queue, and often the next person in the queue will be more vulnerable or less able to self advocate.
So this is what I think about Boris’ London Rental Standard, but what do you think? We need as many renters to give their views on the Housing Covenant if we want reform that is going to truly represent the needs of private tenants. For too long, these needs have been sidelined in favour of landlord’s needs.
Please email your comments, renting experiences and suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for submissions is the 15th February 2013.