CIH warns worst offenders may 'simply ignore' new London Rental Standard
Published by Brian Church for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government
The mayor of London’s new London Rental Standard, published today to mixed reactions from the sector, sets out standards for landlord and letting agent accreditation schemes.
Top amongst objections is the fear that bad landlords will simply ignore it.
"We hope that the voluntary nature of the scheme will not undermine its impact," Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) chief executive Grainia Long said. "Much work will need to be done to ensure it is not simply ignored by the worst offenders."
However, Long said the CIH "particularly welcomes the fact that the London Rental Standard emphasises the importance of professional standards among landlords, as well as the condition of homes".
The London Rental Standard is a voluntary set of minimum standards that the mayor expects from landlords, managing agents and letting agents that operate in London’s private rented sector.
London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said the standard lacks real substance.
"It gives tenants no real protections against landlords evicting in retaliation for complaints, or against big rent hikes, and fails to ban outrageous letting agent fees," Johnson said. "He is effectively endorsing six landlord registers that will only cover good landlords. We need regulations to protect tenants from all the rest."
Crisis chief executive Leslie Morphy said "we must ensure it is taken up widely so that it makes renting better for everybody, including those struggling under the worst conditions in London. Our chief concern is that voluntary schemes tend to be ignored by those providing bad services.
"Too often, people on low incomes find themselves at the mercy of bad landlords, trapped in poor quality housing on short-term tenancies that prevent them putting down roots. People in this situation have to take what they can get and rarely have the freedom to choose their landlord. Without proper enforcement, the worst landlords are likely to sidestep any minimum standards because they know they can still find tenants.
"The ending of a private tenancy is now the leading cause of statutory homelessness in London. Yet we know from our own work that with responsible landlords and the right support, renting can provide a solution to homelessness. Private renting is more important than ever before. We must make sure it works for everyone."
Tom Copley, housing spokesperson for the London Assembly Labour Group, called the scheme a "meaningless gimmick".
Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share site SpareRoom.co.uk, said: "The rogue element of the landlord community is far smaller than most people think. The wider problem is a private rented sector dominated by amateur and accidental landlords, who don’t always know their responsibilities. The launch of the Rental Standard is recognition that regulation is needed so it's step in the right direction, but tenants, and landlords, need to know it exists for it to work - so education is vital."