Large rise in London renters but standards poor
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
The proportion of people renting in London has gone up from 18% to 25% in the last two years, new research has revealed.
And the data also shows that rental costs in the capital as a proportion of household income rose from 21% in 2001/02 to 27% in 2010/11.
But the report finds that standards in the rental sector are poor, with complaints against landlords and letting agents on the rise and half of rented homes failing to meet basic standards of health and safety.
The Centre for London's report - 'Stressed, A Review of London’s Private Rental Sector' - argues that new homes of every tenure are badly needed in the capital, and that the government needs to do more to raise the standards of existing rented properties.
While politicians and commentators have called for the introduction of a compulsory registration scheme for private landlords and the re-introduction of rent controls, the report cautions that such a move could have perverse consequences for tenants, by, for instance, encouraging landlords to leave their homes empty, further exacerbating London’s shortage of homes, or driving up rents.
Ben Rogers, director of Centre for London, said: "London prides itself on being a world class city, but options on offer to people renting in the city are rarely world class.
"This report set out a carrot and stick approach to raising standards. We need to ensure that tenants and especially landlords know what is expected of them and their
"And we need to ensure that the tax system supports landlords who invest in their homes. But we also need to make sure that those that don’t adhere to basic standards face the consequences."
The report found that:
• Private renters tend to be younger than the average Londoner. 60% are under 35 and only 4% are over 65.
• 82% of private renters say they are satisfied with their
accommodation. But only 49% say they are happy with their tenure - most would prefer to own.
• Rent increases have hit low to middle income groups hardest. Households on modest weekly incomes of £400-£549 before tax paid a full 41% of their income in rent in 2010/11.
• Government welfare reforms are placing pressure on low income renters, many of them in work, on housing benefit. 38% of London landlords reported they had taken action to evict tenants because of the LHA reforms, compared to 25% in the rest of Great Britain.
• Over-crowding has more than doubled over the last two decades, with 12% of London households officially over-crowded.
• Around 40% of private rented homes were built before 1918 compared to 25% of housing association homes and less than 10% of council homes.
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