Landlords are Pawns in Battle for Control of London

by Property118.com News Team

16:26 PM, 15th December 2011
About 7 years ago

Landlords are Pawns in Battle for Control of London

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Landlords are Pawns in Battle for Control of London

Landlords have become embroiled in a bitter battle for the election of the new London Mayor as candidates have made residential letting a major campaign issue.

Tory Mayor Boris Johnson is standing for re-election and wants to introduce a citywide accreditation scheme for buy to let landlords.

His opponent – former Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone – wants to set up a not-for-profit lettings agency across the capital to introduce rent control while bringing down fees and costs for tenants.

But speaking out for the buy to let sector Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) rubbished the proposals from both sides.

“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,” he said.

“With over 10,000 landlords in London already members of the London boroughs’ accreditation scheme, it would seem a waste of time and money for Johnson to reinvent the wheel. “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.”

In a speech to the Institute for Policy Research, Livingstone said: “We must intervene into the private rented sector. Tenants renting privately should not pay more than a third of their wage in rent.”

In response, Johnson pointed out that the London does not have the legal power to control rents without further government legislation. He also said further details about his plans for landlords would be released soon.

London will elect a Mayor on May 1, 2012.



Comments

20:22 PM, 15th December 2011
About 7 years ago

Maybe we should combine both ideas. Good thinking from both the candidates.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

11:53 AM, 16th December 2011
About 7 years ago

Speaking as a London tenant who pays two thirds of his income on rent, not simply the one third that Ken alludes to I would dearly love to see rents come down and would happily vote for him if I seriously thought he could do it, but I have to confess I cant see how he will be able to pull it off.

Boris's magic blue badge is a similar load of old twaddle. He hasnt thought it through and is even setting a late date for it's implimentation so if he gets voted out he doesnt have to bother with it, just pre-electioneering blather from both of them.

We dont need another bloody level of agent/landlord accreditation, we need jsut one national standard. regulations and laws on renting are already more complicated than Japanese arithmetic. we wouldnt need landlord and tenant education if it was all a bit simpler. And I say this as a housing law trainer.

At election times all popular campaigns get thrown into the mix in an attempt to catch as many interests of the electorate as possible. Landlords are simply the pawns for this bit, shopkeepers, council tenants and even cyclists will be tossed into the mixing bowl as the months go forward

Mark Alexander

10:50 AM, 17th December 2011
About 7 years ago

Below is the latest press release from the NLA on this subject. I'm really not sure how I feel about them sucking up to the politicians on this. What do you reckon?

The National Landlords Association (NLA) has commented on the London Assembly Investigation* into private-rented housing, published today.

The investigation, by the London Assembly’s Planning and Housing Committee, was to assess the state of London’s private-rented sector and opportunities for its improvement.

The NLA provided evidence to the committee from the landlord’s perspective.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of the NLA, commented:

“This report highlights the key role the private-rented sector plays in the provision of housing in the London. We were delighted to contribute our evidence on behalf of landlords to the Committee’s investigation.

“We encourage the Mayor and policy makers to adopt the Committee’s approach towards the private-rented sector. There needs to be a clear synergy between encouraging robust and proactive enforcement action to tackle criminal operators, while supporting the majority of landlords to professionalise and observe best practice.

“We are pleased that the Greater London Assembly has recognised the importance of accrediting landlords as a way of raising standards within the sector and look forward to continuing to work with the GLA and local authorities to promote the benefits of becoming accredited.

“We also welcome the fact that the Committee recognises that tax should be part of the solution to encourage investment in the sector, recognising landlords in a similar way to other small or medium sized businesses.”

Ben Reeve-Lewis

16:32 PM, 17th December 2011
About 7 years ago

I sit on the steering group of the London Landlord's Accreditation Scheme and this came up at our meeting a couple of weeks back, to a very cautious and luke warm reception.

Yet another standard of regulation that is entirely voluntary to join and with no real teeth for those that breach it. With ARLA, NALS, RLA, NLA etc etc out there why on earth bother with another one?

The standards havent even been set yet, so all it is, is the idea of a London wide badge, with nothing behind it yet. The current debate being, do you set the compliance standards so high that nobody joins or so low that the badge is meaningless?

The usual suspects are already arguing with each other about how they already have the last-word standards in place and so they should be the ones to dictate how it goes.

The NLA are putting the landlord's views but I dont know who is putting the tenant's thoughts on this forward

A pointless farce if you ask me.

3:08 AM, 18th December 2011
About 7 years ago

What about asking Shelter what they would like to see in any Landlord accreditation scheme.
They appear to set themselves up as the tenants' champion.
One would presume that such approval for a scheme approved by Shelter would attain gravitas amongst all parties involved in the letting industry.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

10:53 AM, 18th December 2011
About 7 years ago

That is indeed and an excellent and sensible suggestion Paul. One thing the whole industry lacks is a joined up approach, too many vested self interests rubbing up against each other.

As I understand it Boris is only taking suggestions from the usual suspects and although there will be measures in there that protect tenants too the emphasis is inevitably going to be slanted towards the landlord side.

I am concerned too about the argument about where to benchmark the standard. I think certain things should be inviolable, such as gas safe (I know) electric certs, carbon monoxide alarms and other property standards but if membership is voluntary then why would a landlord bother to sign up when they can happily let without fulfilling anyone's criteria and without fear of any sanctions?

I am very much in favour of a single regulation standard for agents but I think the best way to improve PRS standards on all fronts among landlords is best done on a local basis, with councils, who are after all the enforcement departments for these things, working with landlords.

Sorry I know I keep banging on about this

11:24 AM, 18th December 2011
About 7 years ago

No you are not banging on; it is after all the reality of the situation which you are more aware of than most of us.
The trouble is with 'localism' you will end up with a fractured and disparate regulation system.
Where possibly LL in one council area have different regs than the adjoining council
We already have problems like that with school catchment areas.
How do we get all the local areas agreeing to common standards throughout England and Wales, beats me!
It doesn't help landlords or tenants and will make your workload across council areas a nightmare!!?

11:29 AM, 18th December 2011
About 7 years ago

When you mention fear of sanctions; that is something that yes would worry me but more particularly and possibly more cynically nothing could be worse for business if you have a fatality at a property you let out caused by lack of CO, SD; fire blanket, extinquisher,CP12,
The tabloids would latch onto that straight away.
Just what look happend to the INNOCENT LL in that murder case recently.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

13:39 PM, 18th December 2011
About 7 years ago

Yeah there is no fixed solution to this. On the one hand I favour local relationships between landlords and the council but I admit I have evry grave trepedations about Localism.

I lean towards local solutions but I wonder how we are going to be able to operate when the world and his wife start dictating how things should go. Who was it who said a camel is a horse designed by a committee?

But on the other hand we have had decades of centralised thinking by council's, whose various committee members have been influenced by a variety of political persuasions and the latest fad management book and that has exactly worked either.

My council have formed a team to do the new thang, build relationships with landlords and influence the way things are run locally and I have put in to be a manager of that new team but I do wonder sometimes, if I get the job, if I wont end up in the Priory after a year haha

Believe it or not I have no problem with the idea of getting you guys on board. You are the easy bit, as long as it makes sound financial sense landlords are easy to please, changing the council mindset of my collegaues is going to be the major 1 in 3 grade uphill struggle.

People outside the council see us all as one body but trust me, that isnt how it works on the inside. we are a wide variety of departments and teams within departments who traditionally, for a variety of legal reasons dont share information with each other, let alone people outside the council.

I truly believe the change can be brought in but in being one of the champions of that change, whether I get a manager's job or not, I will make myself as a fart in a phone box

Tony Atkins

6:45 AM, 20th December 2011
About 7 years ago

This is typical of the NLA approach: perhaps it's sucking-up, or you could call it softly-softly. As an NLA member I do get irritated by their lack of anger sometimes and what appears to be a passive playing by the rules of the Westminster village. But then landlords, unfairly, have a very poor reputation with politicians and the general public, and the NLA has consistently shown a preference for influence and persuasion over the blustering "campaigning" tactics of worthier-than-thou organisations like Shelter.

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