Housing is a big topic in this year's mayoral election, but it's mainly about how many new houses will be built. If you rent privately, you might be feeling a bit forgotten.
Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat candidate, launched policies aimed directly at renters today. She proposes:
- all landlords in London should be registered
- more support for councils to crack down on rogue landlords, to enforce standards and advise tenants
- introduce a 'right to buy' for tenants if the landlord decides to sell
- promote three- to five-year tenancies to offer more security
- scrapping agents' fees for tenants.
We're not quite sure what powers the mayor has to introduce some of these proposals ('right to buy' and ending fees jump out in particular) but we're talking to Pidgeon soon and will ask. These are, however, the kind of developments that campaigners have been crying out for. On fees, in particular, the Lib Dems say someone who moves once a year in London could spend/throw away £5,590 on fees by the time they manage to buy. All money that could be put towards a deposit.
By making sure rogue landlords are prosecuted, enforcing housing standards and promoting longer tenancies of three to five years to give tenants security we can make an real impact on improving the lives of people who choose to rent.
Of course the way to tackle high rents in London will come from increasing the supply of housing. With... my costed plan to deliver 200,000 new homes over the next four years, 50,000 of which will be council homes at affordable rent levels and 150,000 for rent and sale in the private sector under licensed landlords, we can start to solve London’s housing crisis.
Of the other main candidates, only Green Sian Berry has any real detail about action for private renters. She proposes a Renters' Union funded by City Hall to represent the interests of the capital's private tenants. It would provide advice, support legal action against landlords, lobby for tenants' rights and work for voluntary landlord registration (the Greens say they'd launch a register, but one already exists).
If you rent in London and want to know what mayoral candidates are going to do to help you, register for the Generation Rent hustings on 29 March and find out.