• Monday, December 11, 2023

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Sadiq Khan flags private landlords profiting billions from sub-standard homes

Across England, landlords are collecting £9bn in rent each year for privately rented homes that are classified as ‘non-decent’, meaning they are hazardous to residents’ health or life

Khan has called for national action to support renters (Representative Image: iStock)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is urging for national action after a recent analysis conducted by City Hall revealed that private landlords are receiving billions of pounds in rent for sub-standard homes.

This situation is particularly concerning given that over a billion pounds of this rent are derived from housing benefit.

Across England, landlords are collecting £9bn in rent each year for privately rented homes that are classified as ‘non-decent’, meaning they are hazardous to residents’ health or life.

According to the government’s definition, a home is ‘non-decent’ if it fails to meet the basic legal requirements for housing health and safety, lacks proper upkeep, doesn’t possess appropriate modern facilities and services, or has insufficient heating or insulation.

The analysis conducted also revealed that London is particularly affected, with landlords receiving £3.5bn in rent every year from around 180,000 privately rented, non-decent homes, with £500m of this being from housing benefit, a press release informed.

The mayor has labeled this situation “a scandal” and is calling for immediate action to address the issue.

Additionally, in Yorkshire and the Humber, landlords are receiving almost £1bn in rent annually from approximately 160,000 privately rented homes that are classified as ‘non-decent’, including roughly £130m from housing benefit.

This region is currently the second worst-affected in the country.

In the South West, private landlords are collecting around £870m in rent, with over £160m of this coming from housing benefit as a result of letting sub-standard homes.

Mayor Khan has been urging Ministers to take more decisive action to defend the rights of renters. He believes that this should begin with the immediate implementation of promised renters reform legislation, which includes proposals to eliminate Section 21 “no fault” evictions and establish a Property Portal containing an expanded version of the government’s National Rogue Landlord Database.

Also, he is requesting that the government grant him the power to freeze rents during the ongoing cost of living crisis to prevent unscrupulous landlords from exploiting poor housing conditions and to enhance standards in the private rental sector within the capital.

London’s vulnerable private renters require greater access to council and social rented housing, as well as more opportunities for first-time buyers, the press release said.

A welfare system that accounts for the high cost of renting in London, as well as essential reform of the private rented sector to ensure that it is equitable for renters, are also critical components of this plan.

Despite achieving affordable homebuilding with devolved funding, including the highest level of council housebuilding since the 1970s, there seems to be a dire need for more funding to satisfy the demands of London’s population.

Khan has called for national action to support renters. He stated, “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.”

He added that the government should give him the power to drive up living standards and introduce a rent freeze in London during this time of economic crisis.

The mayor also stressed the need for the government to take action to empower London’s renters, including the introduction of the Renters Reform legislation, adequate funding for private rented sector enforcement teams in boroughs, and the increase of fines for landlords who violate regulations.

He believes that such measures will aid in building a better London for everyone.

Meanwhile, according to Dan Wilson Craw, Acting Director of Generation Rent, the fact that private landlords receive more payment than social landlords for providing sub-standard accommodation is an outrage.

He believes that the increased dependence on the private sector to provide housing has resulted in a higher cost for taxpayers with no improvement in living standards.

Craw sees the upcoming Renters Reform Bill as an opportunity for the government to raise the expectations of private renters regarding their landlords and introduce much stricter penalties for those who do not meet the Decent Homes Standard.

He emphasised the importance of improving the quality of rental housing and holding landlords accountable for their actions to ensure a better quality of life for renters.

 

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