The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced his plans to fulfil one of his campaign pledges later this year. Khan intends to launch a website to name and shame landlords and agents in London who, intentionally or negligently, break the law regarding how they treat their tenants.
“I refuse to stand by as thousands of Londoners suffer sky-high rents and horrendous living conditions in a city they call home. I want to be clear that the vast majority of landlords treat renters well, but a minority are exploiting their tenants and it’s simply unacceptable. This must stop now.” – Sadiq Khan
This is an interesting development as it follows reports from New York City where a bill has been passed allowing the public shaming of landlords who harass tenants on the City’s housing website. The similarities between the two global cities are striking – both have an immense demand for housing, rents are rocketing and, seemingly, those in positions of influence feel it is necessary to improve the consumer protection offered to tenants.
There is a significant push in the industry to raise the standards expected by all stakeholders. Brash headlines from various media sources can seemingly amplify the impact of the current problems in the market. However, it is a fact that the vast majority of transactions in the private rented sector run their course smoothly. Data from mydeposits show over 98% of tenancies end amicably with no disputes. Similarly, the Property Redress Scheme have advised that less than 1% of its members have had an escalated complaint in the last year. These are exceptionally promising statistics for the industry when you consider the scheme is rapidly growing and is the chosen redress scheme for young and start-up agencies.
Despite this, there is currently a real appetite to improve the experience for the consumer and address the sometimes disproportionate powers within a tenancy. The banning of tenant fees has been announced and is currently under consultation; client money protection is soon to be made mandatory for agents across the whole of mainland U.K and now Sadiq Khan’s London register of industry rogues should help regulate the industry through the power of public shame.
I believe this is a big step in the right direction, ensuring the onus is placed firmly on those with power to raise industry standards. A successful launch could act as a pilot for a national roll-out or wider reaching schemes such as landlord registers, or even a mirrored scheme to identify rogue tenants.
The private rented sector works smoothly under true market conditions for the vast majority of landlords and tenants alike. But the time is getting closer and closer to stop tweaking and playing with the industry and embrace the benefits regulation will bring to all those involved in the sector.