Mayor reveals full extent of Boris Johnson’s failure to help renters

31 May 2016

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has criticised his predecessor for having been “asleep at the wheel” after revealing that Boris Johnson ignored official advice and pushed ahead with a scheme to accredit 100,000 landlords but that attracted just 1,800.

His comments came during a visit today (31 May 2016) to the Hackney Family Service – a support service run by the homelessness charity Shelter for families at risk of losing their homes. During his visit the Mayor met families who have been suffering from poor conditions, high rents and insecurity in the private rented sector.

Immediately after entering City Hall, the new Mayor instructed officials to open up the books and audit City Hall’s recent work in the private rented sector – including Boris Johnson’s flagship ‘London Rental Standard’ that was announced four years ago with the stated target of raising the number of accredited landlords to 100,000 by 2016.

Damning new statistics and internal emails now show that not only has the London Rental Standard accredited fewer than 2,000 new landlords since its inception – but that the previous Mayor had ignored clear and repeated advice that it was doomed to fail.

Official internal advice, apparently ignored by the previous Mayor, included:

· A briefing in May 2012 sent to the Mayor’s Office that warned it would take “more than 50 years to accredit a sufficient number of landlords to meet the target”.

· A further briefing in October 2012 that warned the Mayor that “we simply don’t have the resources to proactively enforce the London Rental Standard, which leaves us with an unacceptable reputational risk.”

· Further internal advice circulated between top officials in February 2013 warning that the 100,000 target was “clearly unrealistic and unachievable.”

Sadiq Khan has set out his aim of improving conditions in the private rented sector, including supporting the extension of landlord licensing and ‘naming and shaming’ rogue landlords, but has warned there would be ‘no quick fixes’ given the scale of the problem left by Boris Johnson.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

“Everyone in London has either had a bad experience renting privately or knows people who have. I’ve met families who have had to move nearly a dozen times with their children because they can’t afford the rent or they have been treated terribly by their landlord. This is not good enough and I am determined to get a grip on the private rented sector.

“We know most landlords do a good and decent job – but we’ve got to stop those rogue landlords who are exploiting renters. I’ve got plans to take them on, but it’s very disappointing that little or no progress was made under the previous Mayor. It seems that Boris Johnson was asleep at the wheel and ignored repeated warnings from officials that his plans were not working.

“We can’t stand by as thousands of renters are suffering high costs and low standards in London. That’s why I will make sure we build thousands of new affordable homes to both buy and rent, promote landlord licensing schemes across London, and ‘name and shame’ the rogue landlords who are letting Londoners down.”

Notes to editors

Campbell Robb, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “London is in the middle of a chronic housing crisis, with house prices are rising six times faster than wages and rents sky high.

“Millions of Londoners are stuck in a 'rent trap' - paying tens of thousands of pounds for a home they can never call their own. At the sharp end there are thousands of homeless families in London right now – over 2000 in Hackney alone – trapped in temporary accommodation because there’s nowhere they can afford to live.

“It doesn’t have to be like this. The new Mayor of London has the power to turn our housing crisis around, by building homes that ordinary Londoners can actually afford to rent or buy. We welcome the Mayor’s commitment to prioritise building genuinely affordable homes for Londoners, and look forward to working with him to deliver on this pledge‎.”

• Boris Johnson’s ‘London Rental Standard’, announced at the beginning of his second term, included a target of 100,000 landlords to be accredited by 2016. This target was first announced by the previous Mayor in a speech on 13 Dec 2011, was in the draft London Housing Strategy published the same day and then appeared in the previous Mayor’s 2012 election manifesto (page 34).

• The scheme inherited around 13,300 landlords from previous schemes and as of March 2016 (latest available data) only 1,845 new landlords had become accredited since the scheme launched. 13434 landlords were already accredited in existing schemes at the time of the launch of the LRS.