Private Rented Sector

Meeting: 
MQT on 2016-06-22
Session date: 
June 22, 2016
Reference: 
2016/2010
Question By: 
Tom Copley
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

What devolved powers over the private rented sector will you seek from the Government?

Answer

Answer for Private Rented Sector

Answer for Private Rented Sector

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you very much for your question.  With 2 million private renters in London, it is important to improve the private rented sector.  I will make sure that the actions I take to improve the private rented sector, like naming and shaming rogue landlords, are well-considered and effective.

 

This is in contract to the last Mayor, who let renters down by wasting time and money on ineffectual initiatives like the London Rental Standard.  Rather than raise the number of accredited landlords in London to 100,000, it has only attracted 2,000 new landlords.  The scheme has been seen from all quarters as a failure.  Even worse, the previous Mayor pushed ahead with his plans, despite warnings from officials that his target was - and I quote - “clearly unrealistic and unachievable” and that it would take - and I quote - “more than 50 years to accredit a sufficient number of landlords to meet the target”.

 

I will work closely with boroughs to support practical measures to improve life for London’s renters.  Where boroughs want to introduce landlord licensing schemes and where they are appropriate, I will support them.  Licensing schemes enable boroughs to identify the minority of landlords who are treating their tenants badly and to take action against them.

 

At the moment, my powers over the private rented sector are extremely limited and so I will be making the case to the Government to devolve more powers in this area.  There is a strong case for the Government giving the Mayor power to approve landlord licensing schemes, which would enable my team to work much more closely with boroughs that want to introduce these schemes to drive up standards.  We clearly need to focus on building more homes that are genuinely affordable to rent and buy, but I want to help London’s 2 million private renters in their current homes, too.  Most landlords offer a good service to their tenants, but it is important that we identify and take actions against the minority who do not.  I am keen to see the GLA given a stronger role by the Government in making this happen.

 

Tom Copley AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  As you are aware, I am sure, in Scotland and in Wales they have extensive devolved powers over the private rented sector, including over tenancies.  Are you seeking and do you think the Government will grant you devolved powers over the length of tenancies, annual rent increases and things like that?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I do not want to give a running commentary on negotiations taking place now.

 

Tom Copley AM:  I understand that.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am ambitious but realistic.

 

Tom Copley AM:   There are some other things as well that could be done, in some cases within your existing powers.  For example, there is no reason why councils cannot ask people when they send back their council tax forms for the name and address of their landlord.  As far as I am aware, no borough does that, but that will allow councils to start to build up a database of the landlords in their areas.  Is that something you will encourage boroughs to do when they are collecting council tax?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is a cracking idea.  Why do I not take that away and speak to the Deputy Mayor for Housing and London Councils in relation to what we can do to collect data in a sensible way that avoids duplication?

 

Tom Copley AM:  Sure.  That is excellent.  Another idea: one issue that landlords have raised is that even when they want to offer longer tenancies, they cannot because of the conditions on their mortgages.  In fact, I had this experience recently: when I asked for a two‑year tenancy I was told that was fine, but then they came back and said, “Actually, the conditions of the mortgage are that you can have only one year”.  The Government, I believe, had said that it was going to take banks to task over this but, as far as I am aware, nothing has happened.

 

Could you use your influence as Mayor, both with the Government and potentially directly with lenders themselves, to make sure that landlords can offer tenancies for at least, say, three years, for example?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Again, I will look into that as well.

 

Tom Copley AM:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Chair.