By Marcus Leach

The London Assembly today (Friday) calls for longer tenancies of at least five years and tax incentives for landlords who improve their properties, as part of a push to improve conditions for the growing number of Londoners living in the private rented sector.

About a third of the private rented sector in London — around 280,000 homes - fails to meet the “decent homes” standard used in the social rented sector, and one in three private landlords is considered to be “rogue”, leaving tenants at the mercy of poor conditions or sudden eviction.

At the same time, London’s boroughs are paying more than £400 million of public money to private landlords to house some of the capital’s most vulnerable households, sometimes in appalling conditions or with little or no security of tenure.

The Planning and Housing Committee’s report, ‘Bleak Houses’ calls on the Mayor to lobby the Government to introduce longer and more secure tenancies - with protection from retaliatory eviction - and conduct a review of tax incentives to help landlords carry out maintenance and improvements.
The Mayor should also promote a campaign to inform private tenants about their rights, and develop an ‘accreditation badge’ so tenants, estate agents and councils can have confidence that properties — and the landlords who own them - meet an acceptable standard.

“Now home to one in four Londoners and still growing, in many ways London’s private rented sector can be regarded as a success story," Jenny Jones AM, Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee, said.

"The problem lies in the fact that private rented housing is increasingly acting as social housing, but without any of the standards and security.

“Families need certainty about where they will be living so they can settle their children in schools and forge community links. In exchange for the hundreds of millions of pounds of public money they are receiving, private landlords must be compelled to provide this certainty in the form of longer tenancies.

“Giving its growing importance and changing role, it’s time the Mayor turns his attention to the private rented sector and makes it a priority to bring properties and landlords up to scratch.”

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