Council seeks to tackle London's housing crisis with innovative rent model
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government
4Council seeks to tackle London's housing crisis with innovative rent model Council seeks to tackle London's housing crisis with innovative rent model
Camden Council has today unveiled a new plan to tackle London's housing crisis.
The north London borough has worked with the London School of Economics on a new report outlining how a rent stabilisation model could address the acute affordability problems faced by the average Camden family.
A third of Camden residents live in privately rented homes. The average house price in Camden is £700,000 and is way out of reach of all but the wealthiest families. The average rent for a two bedroom property is £440 per week and these rents and house prices are simply unaffordable for the majority of local people in a borough where average income is around £33,000.
Camden commissioned Professor Christine Whitehead (OBE) from the London School of Economics (LSE) to advise them on how rent certainty could work in Camden and London.
Christine Whitehead’s report for Camden will be published tomorrow at an event in Whitehall.
The report is intended to stimulate national debate and lead to action that results in a better private rented sector for both tenants and landlords. A panel includding the Leader of Camden Council, Councillor Sarah Hayward, Frank Dobson MP, Professor Christine Whitehead, Kath Scanlon, Tony Travers from the LSE and Director of Generation Rent Alex Hilton will discuss the report.
The report ‘Rent stabilisation: Principles and international experience’ examines the economics of rent regulation, the different forms of rent regulation and the barriers to the success of each model. It also looks at how the different models work in other countries, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, France and the USA (New York City and San Francisco)
The report makes conclusions and recommendations about what might work in the London context, based on principles and evidence, including:
•Camden should positively enable longer-term tenancies with index linked rent increases, voluntarily agreed by landlords and tenants to improve transparency and contractual enforcement.
•Camden should consider acting to enable longer-term tenancies with index linked, voluntarily agreed rent increases through the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme (LLAS), which Camden operated on behalf of all London boroughs.
•Offering landlords template tenancy agreements for longer terms with rent increases built in to ensure that both landlords and tenants know what their rental costs are going to be in coming years and give certainty to both parties.
•Longer term tenancies that allow landlords to factor in maintenance and repair costs into planned rent increases.
•Training for landlords
Leader of Camden Council, Councillor Sarah Hayward, said: “The event signals our intention to work hard with local landlords to ensure that everyone has the right to live in an affordable, safe and decent home. As a local authority we provide social housing but we don’t have enough of it. We can’t control all levers in the private rented sector but we are determined to do more to make improvements where we can we can and to influence where we can’t act. We want this report to spark a wider debate about the possibilities for stabilising rents in the sector.
“We value our private landlords and hope that many will embrace our recommendations as an opportunity to get certainty over future revenues. We understand that rent stabilisation is not the solution to London’s housing crisis in itself but we hope our report is the start of work to prevent whole areas of London from becoming unaffordable for a whole section of society.”
Co-author of the report Kath Scanlon, from the LSE, said: “The LSE was pleased to be asked by Camden to provide advice on a model for rent stabilisation. The research is timely given the current debate on how to improve the private rented sector for all stakeholders in this growing housing tenure.
“In many countries, including Germany, leases offer private tenants more security of tenure and greater certainty about rent increases. These are seen to benefit landlords as well by ensuring stable income streams.
“The UK housing market is very different from the German one, but longer leases could benefit both parties here as well.
“On the matter of rent stabilisation, this is primarily an issue for government but Camden is in a unique position due to its stewardship of the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme to promote the benefits of a voluntary rent certainty model.
LLAS vice chair, Andrew Woolmer, said: “We welcome any attempt to improve the private rented sector for everyone in London and, in particular, our accredited landlords.
“We know that some landlords and tenants would welcome the sort of measure recommended in the report as it could provide a greater level of financial certainty for both parties.
“We look forward to exploring the possibility of taking this idea further with a small group of our accredited landlords to see how this would work in practice.”