The Johnson-Livingstone Election Battle Begins with Private Rental Sector Being the Main Focus

16 December 2011 Categories: News

The Johnson-Livingstone Election Battle Begins with Private Rental Sector Being the Main Focus

The last few days has seen both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson outline their plans for London’s private rental sector in the run up to next year’s Mayoral elections. Both plans are flawed (if you listen to the arguments of the opposing candidate and the chairman of the Residential Landlords Association) but one or other of them will, to some degree, be implemented over the coming years. The question is which will cause less damage?

The plans of Ken Livingstone include the introduction of ‘rent caps’ or rent controls within the city, a scheme that was abandoned in the 80s because it was seen to be counter-productive. Mr Livingstone also plans to establish a city-wide, not-for-profit letting agency run by members of the Mayoral Office. The agency would, according to Mr Livingstone, “put good tenants in touch with good landlords across the spectrum of private renting so that both can benefit from security of tenure and reduce the costs of letting.” He then went on to say that his new agency would not only tackle the problem of rogue landlords, it would look to licensing the 10,000 landlords that already operate in the capital.

In opposition to this Boris Johnson is looking to introduce a London-wide accreditation scheme for all private landlords, known simply as the London Rental Standard. He also has strategies for helping first time buyers get on the property ladder and ideas for tackling the overcrowding problems that are plaguing the capital.

When asked what he thought of the two proposed plans of action, the chairman of the Residential Landlord Association, Alan Ward, said “Livingstone’s call for rent controls is an old idea that never worked in the past. Until 1988, rent controls resulted in a shortage of supply and poorer conditions for tenants. Hardly a remedy for 2012.

Of Boris’s plans Mr Ward then went on to say “With over 10,000 landlords in London already members of the London boroughs’ accreditation scheme, it would seem a waste of time and money re-inventing the wheel in this way. The Mayor should focus on supporting and encouraging existing accreditation schemes, freeing his office up better to target the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.”

 It seems then that both electoral candidates need to revisit the drawing board and try again.