A new report published today calls on London’s next Mayor to lobby the Government for powers to introduce three-year minimum tenancies and cap rent increases to the rate of inflation.
Housing campaigners say private renters are finding their budgets squeezed by ever-spiralling rents while the insecure nature of tenancies can disrupt jobs, schooling and access to healthcare.
All candidates standing to succeed Boris Johnson as mayor have pledged to build more properties for rent and sale but today’s report, which was published by the London Assembly’s Housing Committee, says tackling the housing crisis needs more than just additional homes.
Assembly Members say around a quarter of London households rent from the private rental sector (PRS) with a further 400,000 homes set to become private rentals over the next decade.
To help ensure these Londoners have the same stability as those in social and owned housing, the report says the new mayor must secure additional devolved powers from the Westminster government.
In addition to seeking powers to set minimum term tenancies and limits on rent increases, AMs say City Hall should support low-income renters by convincing ministers to review the freeze imposed on Local Housing Allowance.
They also want a London-wide register of landlords to help boroughs better clamp down on rogue landlords and for the new mayor to lobby for government help for landlords who want to build rental homes.
Committee chair Tom Copley said: “The substantial growth in this sector often means greater insecurity for London households, with private tenants often having just six months to a year tenancies, no predictability over rental costs and the possibility of no-fault eviction with just two months’ notice.
“Given that the PRS is likely to become London’s biggest housing tenure, this is simply unsustainable and unfair to the increasing number of Londoners – particularly families – that call it home.
“England is unusual among western economies in offering tenants short-term tenancies and unmanaged rent increases.
“This report definitively finds that light-touch rent regulation could be introduced in London with minimal impact on the sector, delivering a more modern regulatory framework that works in the best interests of both landlords and tenants”.
Today’s report is backed by the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat members of the committee but Conservative AMs have disagreed with their colleagues’ conclusions.
Conservative housing spokesman, Andrew Boff AM, said: “Whilst it is clearly desirable to ensure tenants get value for money in the private rental sector, rent controls are not the solution, they would actually make things worse.
“The evidence presented to the committee showed that such regulation would restrict the supply of new homes and, subsequently, the choices available to tenants.
“Rent controls that promote fixed long-term tenancies give landlords an immediate incentive to push their rents well above market value to match the increases that would otherwise occur with inflation.
“The evidence suggested it may also encourage higher increases in rent during tenancies than landlords might otherwise have imposed due to the inflexibility afforded to them to raise rent when it is actually required.
“The best way of lowering the cost of renting in London is to increase the supply of homes to the private sector. Rent controls serve no practical long-term solution.”