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London Mayor claims new housing powers

Will Hatchett17/05/2017 - 13:31

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan
London Mayor Sadiq Khan

Rhona Brown, private rented sector programme manager for the Greater London Authority, told the CIEH housing and health conference, that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was seeking powers from government to authorise London boroughs to set up selective licensing schemes for private landlords. The powers are currently held by the secretary of state.

Licensing schemes, she said, such as the one in Newham, provided income for authorities and were an effective framework for enforcement. It was not unreasonable to charge a landlord £750 for a five-year licence.

She said that, with a chronic shortage of housing in all three tenures, housing was one of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s top priorities. A third of Londoners, more than two million people, were now private renters, more than the population of Birmingham. The average rent was £1,475 per month and a third of private rented had dependent children, so that there were half a million children in the sector, a 200 per increase over the past decade.

The mayor’s concerns centred on affordability with the average tenant paying 60 per cent of their income on rent, poor conditions and insecurity of tenure.

She that the GLA was building affordable housing under its London Living Rent scheme, with rents set at a third of local incomes. A new housing strategy was set for publication by August. There would be a target for half all homes in the city for sale or rent to be affordable.

The mayor would also be setting up a London-wide rogue landlords database using information from councils, often obtained from EHOs knocking on doors: ‘You turbo-charge our efforts’. The scheme would be trialled by six boroughs later this year.

She said that, unlike the DCLG’s rogue landlord database, there would be a public section of the London database, holding landlords’ names, properties and convictions. Councils would be able to log in to a secure area holding more data, including enforcement notes. The records held would go back ten years. Once it was up and running, the London database, she said, could be merged with the national scheme proposed by DCLG.

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