A new City Hall accreditation for private landlords has been criticised for failing to provide “real” protection for tenants.
The London Rental Standard was launched today by Mayor Boris Johnson who claims it will allow both tenants and landlords to easily understand what each can expect from the other.
Landlords who meet “a minimum level of service” set by the Mayor – including transparent fees, protected deposits and clear communication times with tenants – can apply for accreditation by the scheme.
City Hall says it hopes to attract 100,000 landlords and lettings agents by 2016 and has negotiated discounts with home emergency insurers in an effort to incentivise landlords to join the scheme.
Rising property prices and a lack of social housing means greater numbers of Londoners are living in private rent properties.
In recent years campaigners and politicians have called for limits on rent levels and increases and clear standards for the quality of properties being let.
The Mayor says his voluntary scheme would “improve the experience of everyone involved, from landlord to tenant, with a clear set of good practice rules.”
However London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said it failed to provide meaningful protections and would do nothing to tackle bad landlords.
The Green Party AM said: “The Mayor of London’s standard gives tenants no real protections against landlords evicting in retaliation for complaints, or against big rent hikes, and fails to ban outrageous letting agent fees.
“He is effectively endorsing six landlord registers that will only cover good landlords. We need regulations to protect tenants from all the rest.”
Labour’s Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said the voluntary nature of the scheme would do nothing to protect tenants “from rogue landlords” who were unlikely to sign up.
He added: “The Mayor must support real reform of this sector. He should have been lobbying for government legislation to create longer tenancies as standard, caps on annual rent rises and a ban on lettings agents’ fees for tenants.
“Instead, he has wasted two years consulting on a voluntary standard that is not worth the papers it’s written on.
“Private rented housing and lettings agents have minimal regulation. This must change otherwise people will continue to be ripped off and taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords and lettings agents.”
Campbell Robb, chief executive at homelessness charity Shelter, said many Londoners were “finding themselves trapped in expensive, rundown and insecure rented properties, never sure of when their next rent rise will hit or when they might be evicted.”
In a statement distributed by City Hall, he added: “Far more needs to be done to ensure renters are protected from unscrupulous letting agents and rogue landlords who refuse to keep their properties safe and decent.
“It’s good to see that the Mayor has listened to the thousands of people who joined Shelter in saying that renting in London just isn’t working. This scheme will be one step in the right direction to ensuring that all renters in the capital can find the decent home they need.”