News from Sian Berry: Mayor lets down existing private renters over spiralling costs

19 October 2016

Today at Mayor’s Question Time, Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry challenged the Mayor of London to do more to help the city’s two million private renters support themselves and to keep rent rises down. [1]

Drawing on results from her survey of more than 1,500 London renters, Sian asked the Mayor what support London’s one million private rented households could expect, especially on costs, and for help with setting up a renters’ organisation for London that builds upon current renting groups and campaigns. [2]

In response, the Mayor said he had no plans to continue to seek further powers over rents on existing homes or to offer practical support to renters groups, saying simply.

“I’m realistic. This Government is not going to give the Mayor of London powers of rent control or rent stabilisation.”

Sian Berry said: “I have listened to the concerns of my fellow private renters and know the disappointment they must feel at the Mayor’s dismissal of renters’ organisations who are calling for support on a London level.

“The Mayor did say he would persist in calling for a number of new powers today, including the ability to limit the number of Uber cars, but dismissed even trying to win for Londoners the same controls Wales and Scotland have over private renting. If he is not even willing to argue our case for more stable rents, private renters in London will be left to suffer for four more years.

“He needs no new powers to help us with a London-wide renters’ organisation, so I urge him to meet the many groups whose calls for help I am echoing to find out more about what he can do to strengthen our voice.”

Generation Rent – a renter support organisation named-checked by the Mayor as doing good work in this area – outlined in their own report recently that the London Mayor should ‘provide funding for a London Renters’ Union’ as well as ‘investigate the merits of different forms of rent control to bring down the cost of renting’. [3]

Sian also pointed out that the London Living Rent – a new standard of affordability from the Mayor – will only be applied to newly built homes. The Mayor has promised to build 200,000 new homes in London but even if 50,000 are made available at the London Living Rent this will only help five percent of the private renters in the city who are struggling with rising costs.

Notes to editors

[1] Sian tabled the following question and followed it with a number of supplementary questions. The exchange can be viewed online here:

https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=caThqhROx3I

[2]  A copy of the report is available here: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sian_berry_renter_survey_report_oct2016_final.pdf

The full recommendations of the report are:

  1. Better engagement with renters
    Including seed funding a London-wide organisation to carry out research and investigations and provide a voice for renters in dealings with City Hall and councils
  2. More help and information for renters
    Provided by the GLA, with a central information source and links to existing groups and council schemes.
  3. Better regulation and support for landlords
    With support at the London level to ensure consistent council enforcement, training and licensing.
  4. Enhanced regulation of the sector nationally
    With continued pressure from the Mayor, Assembly and London’s borough councils for powers to be devolved to London.

Sian launched the Big Renters Survey in July: https://www.london.gov.uk/pressreleases/assembly/sian-berry/launch-of-big-renters-survey-for-private-tenants

[3] https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/npto/pages/4312/attachments/original/1473935900/Mayoral_Plan_for_London_final.pdf?1473935900