Finally, some voices from the world of policy-making are beginning to recognise the need for radical reform in the private rented sector (PRS). The Greater London Authority have published a series of recommendations calling for a whole host of measures to make renting more fit for purpose.
To see what they’re calling for, click here.
We wanted to make sure these recommendations weren’t just chucked into the long grass, like so many other evidence based reports calling for change in the PRS. So Digs and other London renter groups wrote a letter to Boris Johnson, calling on him to implement the most important recommendations made by there report.
Here’s what we wrote…
Dear Mr. Boris Johnson,
As a collection of London private tenants groups, we urge you to implement in full the recommendations made by members of the London Assembly in their report ‘Rent reform: Making London’s private rented sector fit for purpose’.
We draw your attention to two recommendations which are particularly vital if the private rented sector (PRS) is to adapt to serve the millions of Londoners currently living in it.:
(1) Bring forward an effective mechanism through which private sector rents can be stabilised: As a matter of urgency the Mayor should take to government proposals to introduce a mechanism to stabilise rents in the short term. We encourage the Mayor to look at methods of rent control being used across Europe which are helping to deliver a more stable and affordable PRS and take action not only to stabilise rents but to bring them down.
Here in London, high rents mean low and middle earners are unable to save and are pushed into debt and often the hands of pay day lenders just to cover their rent. As people can’t pay, they are being forced from their homes and communities. Landlord evictions are up by 70%.
The Mayor argues that the problem of high rents should be solved by increasing supply. But unless this supply is targeted, we will simply see more second homes for the wealthy and ‘crash pads’ for company workers who live outside of London.
Rents also need to be reduced. We would welcome an increase in genuinely affordable housing, but the Government show little sign of delivering it. Like many other charities and campaign groups, we reject the model of ‘affordable’ housing developed by the current Government because it’s dictated by the inflated market rather than on what people can genuinely afford. In the meantime, many renters are being priced out of London, leaving gutted communities and whole areas where only wealthy people can afford to live.
(2) The Mayor should undertake, as a matter of urgency, work to review how the issue of retaliatory eviction might be addressed: This should include encouraging the government to bring forward reforms to Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to remove a landlord’s right to a ‘no fault’ eviction.
When a landlord can evict through a ‘no fault eviction’, it completely undermines the limited rights private tenants do have. We speak to Londoners every day who are facing real or threatened retalitory eviction because they’ve asked for furniture to be fixed, because they’ve complained to the council about disrepair or simply because they’ve “answered back”.
Ever month, new private tenants groups are springing up in response to the capital’s housing crisis. The membership of our existing groups is growing rapidly. London Renters has formed as the new coalition of private tenants groups to coordinate this growing movement. As renters begin to get organised and stand together for decent, secure, affordable housing, the Mayor of London must listen to and respond to the needs of the 2 million Londoners living in the PRS.
We look forward to hearing how you will be taking these recommendations forward. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss these measures in greater detail and present the perspectives of London’s private renters.