Boris Johnson wants to ban and fine rogue landlords
PUBLISHED: 17:54 07 September 2015 | UPDATED: 18:04 07 September 2015
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Boris Johnson has said today that he wants rogue landlords throughout London to be banned and fined, but has been criticised by Labour GLA members, who say they proposed his suggestions years ago
This is the latest in a string of efforts from the Mayor to regulate the London rental market, despite his London rental standard scheme, which has less than 15,000 of London’s landlords signed up, being branded a flop.
With figures last week from Weroom showing that north Londoners are the worst affected by tenancy disputes in the capital, this latest move is likely to be welcomed by many renters who are struggling with the combination of high rental prices and lack of private market regulation.
London has the fastest growing rental market in the country, with north London being a key area for those at the forefront of the lettings industry, and rogue landlords having been an ongoing problem. Katia Goremsandu, who owns several rental properties in north London, topped the list of housing offence convictions in July.
Tougher measures for landlords UK-wide were initially discussed early in August, when the Department of Communities and Local Government launched a consultation document which covered new measures to tackle rogue landlords.
However, the Mayor believes that the government plans do not go far enough and said that he would welcome new powers to approve landlord licensing schemes in London so that they can be introduced where necessary, an improvement and extension of letting agent regulation, and more funding for local authorities to help them crack down on criminal landlords.
The Mayor has a range of ideas and schemes he is looking to implement, calling for:
- A publicly accessible criminal landlord and letting agent database to help renters avoid them, and for the worst landlords to be banned
- Minimum fines for repeat offenders
- On-the-spot fines for some offences
- Empowering renters to bring private prosecutions against criminal landlords
- Local authorities to be allowed to keep 100% of fines in order to fund better enforcement against criminal landlords
He is also launching a new information campaign for landlords on the ailing London rental standard scheme, with a mixture of training videos covering disputes, health and safety and legislation – part of the package landlords and agents learn in their training for the scheme.
Richard Blakeway, the deputy mayor for housing, land and property said the Mayor had a vested interest in the private housing sector, and reiterated that the “very limited powers” given to the Mayor should be reviewed.
“Thought needs to be given to whether the GLA could take on a more formal role and powers in relation to the private rented sector. This is in the spirit of not placing additional burdens on good landlords but strengthening London-wide efforts to eradicate bad practice by landlords and agents,” he wrote in a letter to Brandon Lewis, the Minister of State for housing and planning.
However, Tom Copley AM said that while he was happy the Mayor had “finally” caught up, Labour Assembly Members had proposed a register of bad landlords three years ago.
“If he’d listened when we first put forward our fully-costed register it might now be up and running, helping tenants to avoid rogue landlords and the kinds of practices that too often make life hell for London’s private renters,” he said.
“Boris Johnson has been indifferent to the needs of renters. Under his mayoralty, rent inflation has left the typical London household nearly £4,000 a year worse off, while landlord practices have worsened and property standards remained poor. Yet for over seven years he has opposed nearly every measure taken forward by the boroughs (including landlord licensing schemes), and proposed by think tanks and other political parties to help those tenants worst affected by the problems in our private rented sector. It’s evidently clear that Boris’s chief legacy for London will be its severe housing crisis.”