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ARLA Propertymark respond to draft London Housing Strategy

Tuesday 05 December 2017

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is a Mayor on a mission, seemingly determined to take the tough decisions needed to tackle the capital's housing crisis.

His tough rhetoric appears to be backed up with action, as can be seen in his first draft London Housing Strategy. which stakeholders have been asked to have their say on over the course of the last three months.  

Of course, we've submitted our views in writing to the consultation and attended a workshop at City Hall, ahead of the closing date this week.

What is the draft London Housing Strategy?

The London Plan sets out the Mayors vision for housing in London for the next several years. One of the five priorities of the Mayor's draft London Housing Strategy is creating 'a fairer deal for private renters'.

There are currently over two million private renters living in London, a tenure type that is increasing, as it is in many other parts of the country. This is set to increase by another 15% by 2025, taking it to 40% of tenure types.

The mayor plans to tackle rising rents, lack of security and poor living conditions partially by property licensing and landlord registration schemes, as well as by creating a 'name and shame' register for unlawful landlords and agents. The plan also looks at homelessness and house building. 

The Mayor's policies and proposals are grouped into five key areas. 

  • Building homes for Londoners
  • Delivering genuinely affordable homes
  • High quality homes and inclusive neighbourhoods
  • A fairer deal for private renters and leaseholders
  • Tackling homelessness and helping rough sleepers

In terms of the private rented sector, the consultation broadly asked for feedback and opinion on the following issues:

  1. Improving standards for private renters
  2. Improving affordability and security for private renters
  3. Reforming and improving leasehold 

The Mayor wants to see greater collaboration between councils by setting up a new London Boroughs' Private Rented Sector Partnership, enabling them to make best use of regulatory powers including for short-term lettings operators and opposing the Right to Rent Policy. 

He also wants to target enforcement resources against the minority of poor quality and criminal landlords. The Mayor has also pledged support for licensing schemes, and would like to establish a 'light touch' landlord registration scheme and a database to name and shame landlords and letting agents who have acted unlawfully.

Our response

We'd like to see full mandatory regulation of sales and lettings agents rather than an ad hoc scatter-gun approach which is unmanageable to enforce. We'd like the Government to establish a lead enforcement authority which oversees professional bodies and introduces a single code of practice. 

In summary, in our response to the consultation, we have proposed that:

  • Greater enforcement powers given to local authority teams, including revenue collection which should be ring-fenced for housing enforcement.

  • More councils should work collaboratively with statutory and industry bodies on enforcement and sector regulation, citing the HomeStamp initiative in the West Midlands as a shining light example for regional accreditation, education and information sharing, rather than licensing schemes.

  • The Mayor should look at fixing the short-term lettings problem, throughout London, which escape the regulations and can cause problems for both the tenant and the landlord. This could include giving short term lettings its own classification and reliable enforcement of the current 90 day short-term lettings limit. 

  • Right to Rent checks are reconsidered. They are open to abuse and difficult to understand. Once tenant fees are banned there could be an increase in discrimination with some agents looking to take on 'easy' tenants in order to minimise the amount of 'unpaid' work pre-tenancy agreement. 

  • Proposals to continue licensing schemes be reconsidered as they are expensive to administer, difficult to enforce by under-resourced authorities and the cost of licenses can often be passed onto tenants. It's also difficult to measure the impact that licensing has on property conditions. 

  • Calls to introduce a new landlord registration scheme should be put on hold until changes introduced under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 are bedded in and assessed.

  • The 'name and shame' criminal database, should be publicly available and that it should also incorporate agents banned under the Estate Agents Act 1979.
  • Landlords should be encouraged to enter voluntary longer-term tenancies in cases where it's what the tenant wants. To accommodate this mortgage lenders should be made to offer specialist mortgages with terms that reflect this need. 

  • Longer tenancies needs to be a two-way street, balancing security of tenure with improving the evictions process and dispute resolution.

  • Landlords should have assurance that if they offer longer tenancies, they can easily get their property back if things go wrong because of a tenant problem.

  • A new housing court / tribunal should be established which can deal with all housing matters.  

The Mayor also proposes to support the proposed ban on letting agents fees. We argue that reasonable costs such as referencing checks should be able to be charged to cover the cost of doing business. If not, agents could leave the market and as a result, landlords could be left unaware of new and existing legal requirements, resulting in widespread non-compliance, putting tenants at risk. 


We welcome employers deposit loan schemes for staff and bond schemes in conjunction with local authorities, and a cautious approach should be taken on deposit replacement insurance schemes. However, we suggest that the best solution would be for the Government itself to act as the universal guarantor for all tenancies. 

We're against rent control measure which has its own issues with many properties still under rent control being in very poor condition. The Government needs to continue to address issues with Universal Credit payments and we argue that the Greater London Authority, Transport for London and the Nation Health Service should release land for development to ease the housing shortage in the City. 

Read our response in full

What happens next?

Based on the responses received, the Mayor will amend the strategy before submitting the final draft to the Greater London Assembly and to Government for their consideration, with the final version being published some time in 2018.