Boris wants better buy to lets for London

London mayor Boris Johnson doesn’t generally do things by halves – and launching his new London Rental Standard took up part of a 60-page strategy on housing for the capital.

Despite his celebrated hatred of ‘whiff-whaff’ in politics and business, there was plenty on offer in the blueprint for housing in London with five pages concentrating on private rental property.

The study reveals:

  • London has around 150,000 shared houses (houses in multiple occupation or HMOs) – a higher proportion than elsewhere in the country. Outside London, HMOs are predominantly let to students, while in the capital; the spread is to a bigger mix of private renters.
  • Around a third of all rented homes – including social housing – fail to meet decent homes standards in terms of energy efficiency and living standards. A slightly higher number of social rented homes have poorer standards than private rented homes.
  • Private tenants in London pay an average of twice the rent as tenants outside the capital for a similar sized property – except for those letting one-bedroom homes, who pay three times as much.
  • 270,000 private renters are claiming housing benefits in May 2011, according to the Department of Work and Pensions – up 18,600 or 7% from May 2010.
  • The highest rents are in boroughs running west between Islington and Fulham, with the lowest rents in the south and east of the capital. The average monthly rent across the capital is £1,148, but varies between neighbourhoods – from £179 a week in Bexley to £575 a week in Kensington and Chelsea.

Johnson wants to raise private rental standards by accrediting landlords across London – with a target of 100,000 joining the scheme in 2013.

“The private rented sector is a vital and growing component of our city’s dynamic economy. The vast majority of the capital’s landlords provide a highly professional service, but with a vast array of accreditation schemes there is a strong case for landlords and letting agents to get round the table to agree a set of ambitious standards that will empower them and their tenants,” said Johnson.

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