The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today branded it “a scandal” that billions of pounds in rent, including more than a billion pounds from housing benefit, is ending up in the pockets of private landlords who are letting dangerous, cold or dilapidated homes across England.
New City Hall analysis shows that across the country, landlords are collecting £9bn a year in rent for ‘non-decent’ privately rented homes, with £1.6bn of this coming from housing benefit.
‘Non-decent’ is an official government designation for homes that pose a risk to residents’ health or life, are in a bad state of repair, are cold or lack modern facilities.
The analysis revealed London has the highest rent spend, with landlords receiving £3.5bn in rent, £500m of which comes from housing benefit, every year from around 180,000 privately rented, non-decent homes in London.
The second worst-affected region is Yorkshire and the Humber, where landlords are receiving nearly £1bn in rent, including around £130m a year in housing benefit, from around 160,000 privately rented, non-decent properties. Meanwhile, private landlords in the South West are accumulating around £870m in rent, with more than £160m of this coming from housing benefit through letting sub-standard homes (full list in notes).
Sadiq has repeatedly called on Ministers to do more to stand up for the rights of renters. This should start with urgently implementing the long-promised renters reform legislation, including proposals to abolish Section 21 “no fault” eviction and establish a Property Portal, incorporating an expanded version of the Government’s National Rogue Landlord Database.
He is also urging the Government to give him the power to freeze rents during the cost of living crisis to stop bad landlords profiteering from poor homes and to drive up private renting standards in the capital.
London’s struggling private renters also need more council and social rented housing, more homes for first-time buyers, a welfare system that reflects the high costs of renting in London and fundamental reform of the private rented sector to rebalance it in favour of renters. While the Mayor has used devolved funding to deliver record-breaking affordable homebuilding, including the highest level of council housebuilding since the 1970s, higher levels of funding are required to meet London’s need.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We are building a record number of new affordable homes in London, but we need to see national action to support renters. It is a scandal that some private landlords are profiting from letting sub-standard housing that is unfit for 21st century living.
“Renters would feel more secure raising complaints about the condition of their property if they didn’t face the threat of arbitrary eviction, which is why I have long called for Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to be abolished. The Government should also give me the power to drive up standards and introduce a rent freeze in London to help people during this cost of living crisis.
“If we are to continue building a better London for everyone, we need the Government to step up to empower our city’s renters. Ministers must urgently introduce the long-promised Renters Reform legislation, properly fund borough private rented sector enforcement teams, and increase the fines for landlords who break the rules.”
Dan Wilson Craw, Acting Director, Generation Rent, said: “It is an outrage that not only can private landlords provide worse accommodation than social landlords, but they get paid more for it. Increasing reliance on the private sector to provide housing has resulted in a higher bill for the public purse with nothing to show for it but poorer living standards. The government has an opportunity with the upcoming Renters Reform Bill to give private renters higher expectations of their landlord, and introduce much tougher penalties for landlords who fall short of the Decent Homes Standard.”
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