Reforming private renting in London

The Mayor of London believes the private rented sector needs fundamental reform to make it more stable, secure and affordable for the two million Londoners who rely on it for their home.

Despite having no formal powers over the sector, the Mayor is committed to improving the lives of London’s private renters. He is calling on the Government to change tenancy laws to make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without good reason, and for asking powers to bring rents down.

The Mayor of London's blueprint

The Mayor has published a blueprint report which sets out his vision for reforming London's private rented sector.

More Londoners are now renting, with 26 per cent renting privately in 2018, compared to only 11 per cent in 1990. This figure is expected to rise. The Mayor has developed a 'London Model' of tenure reform to improve security for these renters. It proposes introducing open-ended tenancies and scrapping 'no-fault' evictions, so landlords can't evict tenants without a legitimate reason. It also proposes new and improved possession grounds so that landlords can continue to let their properties with confidence. The accompanying London Model technical paper sets out the detailed reforms needed, including court reform, to make these changes possible.

With the average private rent for a one-bed home in London now more than the average for a three-bed anywhere else in England, the Mayor believes the case for City Hall being given powers to bring rents down has become overwhelming. He is calling on Government to give him powers to design and implement an effective system of rent control in London. The Mayor's rent control proposals were developed by Karen Buck MP and Deputy Mayor James Murray, drawing on proposals by the New Economics Foundation.

You can read more on the proposed reforms below.  

Recommendation 1: Improving security through tenancy reform

The Mayor’s London Model of tenure reform proposes:

  • replacing Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) with open-ended tenancies;
  • ending 'no fault' Section 21 evictions;
  • introducing new possession grounds and court processes;
  • scrapping break clauses in tenancy agreements;
  • giving all renters and landlords access to better tenancy sustainment support and dispute resolution services;
  • increasing landlord-to-tenant notice periods to four months;
  • mandating tenant relocation payments for ‘no tenant fault’ evictions; and
  • ensuring that vulnerable renters and vital homelessness services are protected from unintended consequences.

The Mayor is calling for the Government’s forthcoming proposals on improving security of tenure for private renters to mirror these recommendations,

Recommendation 2: Powers to control rents

The Government should enable the Mayor of London to develop and implement a system to reduce private rents in London gradually over time. This should include enabling data to be gathered that will inform the design of this system and underpin its operation. The Mayor specifically seeks the devolution of powers to:

  • Establish a universal register of landlords to ensure policy-makers can access accurate information about the private rental market, private landlords, their properties, and rents for individual homes, and which would also support enforcement of standards in the private rented sector;
  • Establish a London Private Rent Commission to manage the above register, and to use it and other data to design and implement an effective system of rent control, including by determining its own ongoing role in monitoring and enforcing the system;
  • Reduce rents and keep them more affordable through the London Private Rent Commission setting out how rents should be reduced over time to an agreed, more affordable level, and how rents should be maintained at that more affordable level on an ongoing basis;
  • Incentivise continued investment through the London Private Rent Commission implementing, or recommending the implementation of, incentives to encourage investment in new and existing rental housing supply, alongside any appropriate mitigation measures; and
  • Implement interim measures to alleviate pressure on Londoners whilst the universal register and system of rent control are being established. The Mayor could implement simple rent stabilisation measures, such as caps on rent increases both between and within tenancies to mitigate the impacts of high rents on Londoners while the long-term solution is being designed.

Recommendation 3: Court reform

Court reform is essential to the delivery of recommendations one and two of this report. Consequently, the Government must ensure that court reform is central to the proposals set out in their consultation. It is vital that their proposals do not simply focus on digitisation but also recognise the need for further resources to be channelled into the courts system in terms of personnel, enforcement, accessible court buildings and, above all, greater access to legal aid for vulnerable renters.

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