Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with housing, and with good reason. A generation of politicians have failed to tackle the problems in London’s housing market. So I’m delighted to see two of the front runners in our mayoral race have unveiled their housing agendas in today’s Evening Standard.
No group has been let down by a generation of political failure on housing more than private tenants. With a strong focus on London’s two million private tenants, Sadiq Khan has set out a comprehensive plan to make renters’ lives better. As someone who has spent my career campaigning on housing issues, today was the day that Sadiq won my vote.
By 2027, more Londoners will rent from a private landlord than own their own home. The average private tenant pays just under half their income in rent, and that figure is rising fast. But paying more rent doesn’t mean living in a nicer flat or getting a better service – forty per cent of Londoners experienced problems with damp last year, and a third of say they cannot trust their letting agent.
Sadiq has a comprehensive plan to reduce the cost of renting, improve the condition of rented homes and give more stability to renters. It consists of four crucial points:
1. To introduce a ‘London Living Rent’ option for new affordable housing. <span style="font-family:
"Georgia","serif"”>This will be a below-market rent, based on the principle that rents should be around one-third of renters’ incomes and not half. This will provide a genuinely ‘affordable’ option, filling the gap between the new social housing we need to build and homes for private sale or rent. By keeping rents down, tenants will be able to afford their rents while saving for a deposit if they want to.
2. Sadiq will establish a London-wide not-for-profit letting agency, building on the work of Labour councils like Hackney and Islington in a federal structure. This agency will provide good landlords and tenants with a responsible and reliable alternative to private lettings agencies, while promoting longer-term tenancies and stable rents.
3. The Mayor’s office will crack down on rogue landlords and publish a regular list of the best and worst landlords in the capital. Sadiq’s plan proposes cross-borough action against the worst offenders and encouraging local authorities to set up licensing schemes, like Newham has done.
4. Sadiq will campaign with Londoners for the power to freeze rents and for new rules to ensure that if necessary repairs are not started by landlords within a reasonable time period, tenants will be able to carry them out and deduct the cost from the rent. A rent freeze over the last four years would have saved the average London renter £5,615 that could have been saved towards a deposit.
As a package this plan will make an immense difference to the lives of London’s two million private renters. Over the coming weeks Sadiq will be announcing further important measures to tackle London’s housing crisis. I can think of no more important thing for the next Mayor of London to do and that is why I will be campaigning for Sadiq Khan to be Labour’s candidate next May.