The London Assembly has called for reforms to the capital’s private rented homes market in order to stabilise rents and ensure properties are of a decent standard.
A shortage of affordable social housing and financial barriers to home ownership mean that one in four Londoners now rent from private landlords, increasing the sector’s importance to London.
However Assembly Members say regulation of private housing “has remained relatively unaltered” despite its increased role.
A report published today by the Assembly’s Housing and Regeneration Committee calls for a compulsory register of landlords and tougher penalties for those breaching regulations.
It also calls on the Mayor to introduce “an effective mechanism to stabilise rents”.
Last year median rents in the capital rose last year by 9 per cent to £1,196 per month and a recent study suggested almost half of all private renters are left with £100 or less in disposable income once essential bills have been paid.
The report warns that rents “are becoming increasingly unaffordable even for Londoners on average wages”.
Assembly Members also call for longer tenancies of at least 24-months for homeless households placed in the private rented sector, up from the current 6-month minimum.
In an effort to improve the quality of properties on the market, the Mayor has been urged to set up a Decent Homes Fund offering landlords low-cost loans.
Committee chair Len Duvall AM said: “We need urgent reforms for London’s private rented housing, many people are forced to live in poor quality housing and pay rapidly rising rents for the privilege. As housing demand continues to far outstrip supply, the Mayor needs to take action now to make the capital’s private rental sector fairer.
“Law-abiding landlords should have no issue with the Assembly’s recommendations. We need a package of measures to rent stabilisation, longer tenancies and landlord registration.”
Conservative members on the committee back the majority of the report’s recommendations but disagree with the call for rent stabilisation measures.
In a minority report they say such measures: “would be an unwise and counter-productive policy that would ultimately lead to failure. High rents are a symptom of a lack of supply, so the best way to stabilise rents in the long term would be to encourage investment in new housing in London.”