Martin and Co Sutton hears that The London Rental Standard was announced last week by the Mayor of London in a bid to improve the conditions faced by tenants in London's private rental sector. The standard set out a series of voluntary regulations for landlords, letting agencies and managing agencies. To become accredited, landlords and agents must attend a one-day course, sign a code of practice and agree to a declaration that they are fit and proper.
Announcing the reforms, Boris Johnson said: "With more of London's workforce and young families living in rented homes, this growing sector is vital to meeting this capital's housing needs and must not be overlooked. This standard aims to improve the experience of everyone involved, from landlord to tenant, with a clear set of good practice rules."
Mr Johnson's claims were immediately dismissed by Labour, with London Assembly member Tom Copley criticising Mr Johnson for "[wasting] two years consulting on a voluntary standard that is not worth the paper it's written on". Mr Copley continued by saying the Mayor "should have been lobbying for government legislation to create longer tenancies as standard, caps on annual rent rises and a ban on letting agents' fees for tenants".
Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, had similar reservations. She said: "We hope that the voluntary nature of the scheme will not undermine its impact. Much work will need to be done to ensure it is not simply ignored by the worst offenders".
David Cox, managing director designate at The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) backed the plans. He said: "ARLA welcomes this bold initiative, designed to raise professional standards in the capital's private rented sector by providing a consistent benchmark of accreditation for consumers. We have long campaigned for regulation of the private rented sector, and it is crucial we eliminate the small minority of unscrupulous landlords and agents who neglect their responsibilities and bring our industry into disrepute. We are proud to be working with the Mayor on this first step towards a more regulated industry."
Martin and Co in Sutton agree in principle with some form of regulation being introduced for lettings in London. As usual the devil will be in the detail and in how effectively this regulation can be enforced.