Boris hits back at'devastating' rent controls proposals

London mayor Boris Johnson has hit back at election rival Ken Livingstone’s plans for rent controls, saying they would be ‘devastating’ and claiming that no mayor would even have the powers to implement them.

But Johnson has his own plans for the private rented sector, including a new London Rental Standard, a London-wide scheme accreditation scheme for all private landlords.

The Mayor of London will have new powers over housing under the Localism Act, but both sets of proposals drew fire from a leading landlords’ organisation.

While Livingstone plans to introduce rent caps in the form of a ‘living rent’, Johnson wants to introduce a ‘rent map’ to give tenants more information on fair rents in their local area.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “The proposal of rent controls would be devastating for the sector. Rent controls were ended in the UK because they were counter-productive.

“Whatever the ideological appeal, the mayor does not have the power to introduce them, and even if he did, they would be devastating for the construction industry.

“It would result in fewer homes being built and lead landlords to invest less in stock. Other major international cities such as New York are removing rent controls for precisely these reasons.”

The Mayor’s housing strategy, which was revised in August, contains proposals to accredit private landlords, help first-time buyers and tackle overcrowding.

Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, was severely critical of both Livingstone’s and Johnson’s proposals.

He 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.

“There is no doubt that rents in the capital remain far higher than anywhere else in the country, but the answer lies in improved supply.”

Ward said of Johnson’s ideas: “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.

“This should be matched by a programme of serious tenant education, providing tenants with all the information needed to better hold their landlords to account for the service they provide.

“It beggars belief that some people spend more time assessing the state of a car they wish to buy than the homes they seek to rent.”

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15-December-11General Lettings News