Labour’s Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, held a summit yesterday about the capital’s private rental sector – but he did not invite agents or landlords.
The event, unpublicised until very shortly before it started, apparently involved renters, charities and so-called ‘advocacy groups’ according to a statement from Khan’s office.
He said that the average advertised London rent has hit £2,343 a month, more than double some other parts of the country and added: “London’s private renters are facing a triple whammy with rising rents, bills, and the cost of household essentials putting a major strain on their finances. Ministers must take this crisis seriously and act now.”
Khan continued: “There is no time to waste so we have come together today to speak with one voice. Our demands to ministers are simple: implement your long-promised renters reform legislation and take action now to make rents more affordable for Londoners, using all powers at the government’s disposal.
“As we continue working to build a better, fairer London for everyone, it’s vital that we stand up for renters in our city and find common ground on the action that needs to be taken to support them through the cost-of-living crisis, pay their rent and keep their homes.”
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “It is disappointing in the extreme that the Mayor of London feels he can solve the challenges faced in the capital’s rental market without any input from those who actually provide the homes.
“The stark and simple reality is that whilst the demand for private rented housing in London continues to increase, the supply of such homes is falling. This is a direct consequence of government policy aimed at shrinking the size of the sector, along with rhetoric from the Mayor that suggests private landlords are simply a problem to be managed.
“If the Mayor wants to address the cost pressures faced by households across London, he needs to focus on boosting the number of homes available. Anything else would merely be tinkering with the symptoms of the challenges in the rental market, without tackling the root cause of them.”
Khan has been a long-standing advocate of rent controls, and has frequently lobbied the government seeking powers to introduce such controls in the capital.
A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said in response to the news of the summit: “Evidence suggests rent controls in the private rented sector would discourage investment and lead to declining property standards. Our White Paper set out plans to deliver a fairer deal for private renters, including empowering them to challenge unjustified rent increases.
“We will bring forward our Renters Reform Bill in this Parliament.”