Assembly backs my call for more renting powers for London

The Assembly has passed my motion calling for the Mayor to be bolder in asking for private renting powers for London.

After the Mayor told me at Mayors Question Time that he was essentially giving up on getting more powers over rents, letting agents and landlords from Government, I wanted the Assembly to reaffirm its commitment to getting these and to ask the Mayor to at least keep pressing for the powers Wales and Scotland already have over renting.

The motion was seconded by Tom Copley from Labour who was chair of the Housing Committee when it published in a report earlier this year calling for these powers, and was voted for by all the members except the Conservatives and UKIP by 12 votes to 4.

My recent survey of London’s renters highlighted the desperate need they feel for better standards and regulation of the private rented sector to stop them being exploited by landlords.

Further devolution of powers is an appropriate response to this need and has already proved to be successful in Wales and Scotland. London has a higher population than these countries combined, and there is no reason London cannot follow these positive models to implement consistent, city-wide standards for housing and I’m very pleased the Assembly voted for this.

Watch my speech here:

Here’s the full text of the motion:

Improved standards for the private rented sector

London has over two million citizens in private rented accommodation. Shelter estimates private renting will grow to 41 per cent of all households by 2025 – becoming bigger than the owner occupied sector in London for the first time since the mid-1960s,

However, conditions in these homes are not provided at a consistently high standard by landlords, and those moving home are required to pay considerable fees and do not always get a high standard of service from letting agents.

Current regulation of the sector, including licensing of landlords in certain areas and enforcement of letting agent and landlord conduct, is the responsibility of borough councils who do not have the resources to ensure a consistent level of quality and service to renters.

Extensive devolved powers have been given to the Welsh and Scottish Governments to improve standards within the private rented sector, with benefits for landlords in terms of training, as well as for renters in – for example – not being required to cover letting agent fees in Scotland. London would benefit from being able to apply consistent standards such as these at a strategic London level.

This Assembly notes the Mayor’s current efforts to seek greater devolved powers from Government to improve the private rented sector in London. We believe, however, that these current negotiations may not go far enough in securing the powers London needs to resolve the problems in the private rented sector.

This Assembly therefore resolves to ask the Mayor to continue to press the Government for the devolution of more powers over the private sector in London, and to ask his team to meet with their counterparts in Wales and Scotland to learn about the benefits of new powers there as they come into force.