Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched his London Rental Standard, an accreditation scheme designed to drive up standards in the private rented sector.
The idea is to improve compliance and standards of service among landlords in the capital, many of whom are amateurs with no property management expertise. It will also draw in letting agents.
Landlords need to commit to 15 key elements, in order to be accredited. These include dealing with emergency repairs the same day they are raised; being readily contactable at all times; providing written rental agreements; and giving tenants clear information about how their deposit is protected.
The scale of the issue in London comes from the fact that more than a quarter of the capital’s households now live in rented accommodation, with much of it provided by smaller landlords, a situation fuelled by the availability of buy to let mortgage finance. According to the mayor’s office, 85% of landlords are ignorant of core legislation, and 61% have no professional management training.
Deputy mayor for housing Richard Blakeway said the new standard is part of a wider programme, which he outlined in City AM. “The strategy is three-fold: set professional standards; tackle poor building conditions with tougher enforcement; and promote US-style long-term, purpose-built homes for rent to boost housebuilding – our biggest challenge.”
To encourage take-up of the standard, which is voluntary, the mayor has negotiated deals with insurance provider Endsleigh and deposit manager My Deposit.
Clearly, professional landlords will sign up to the scheme, exposing those who are less scrupulous as being outside the approval regime. However, it will be down to tenants to ask the right questions of their new landlord – and to have the will to walk away from those who are not approved.