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Sadiq Khan demands tougher punishment for London's 'rogue' landlords

Khan’s comments come alongside an announcement of a new “better renting” qualification and training for housing officers in London

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attends the East London Mosque in 2017

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attends the East London Mosque in 2017. Image: East London Mosque/Flickr

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called on the government to do more to protect tenants from “rogue landlords” while announcing new measures for housing enforcement officers across the capital.

Khan has called on ministers to double the compensation landlords must pay tenants for inadequate or dangerous housing and repeated his call for rent controls to combat spiralling housing costs as the cost of living crisis bites.

“Every single Londoner deserves a secure, safe and comfortable home,” the mayor said in a statement. “Nearly a fifth of London’s private rented accommodation doesn’t meet basic standards and it is clear that more needs to be done to support tenants.”

Almost a third of Londoners — or 2.4 million — rent their homes privately, according to the latest English Housing Survey, compared to less than one in five across the rest of the country. Average rent in London is £340 a week, more than double the average for the rest of England, but a fifth of privately rented homes fail the government’s decent homes standard, the mayor’s office said.

“I want to see tougher penalties for rogue operators and this action can only come from the government,” Khan continued. “Poor housing conditions and exploitative rents have an awful impact on both the physical and mental health of tenants and these actions need to have consequences.”

Footage of housing conditions in the capital, largely in the social housing sector, have shocked social media users in recent months. Campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa has made it his mission to document the conditions faced by some of the most vulnerable communities in London, including homes with human faeces running down the wall and infestations of cockroaches.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We’ve given councils robust powers to crack down on rogue landlords, including fines of up to £30,000 and banning orders on those who rent out unsafe accommodation, and we expect them to use these powers.

“Our levelling up white paper sets out comprehensive reforms to create a fairer private rented sector for all, including exploring proposals for a national landlord register in England to help councils drive out criminal landlords and banning section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.”

Khan’s comments come alongside an announcement of a new “better renting” qualification and training for housing officers in London to ensure they can hold rogue landlords and agents to account, support tenants, and ensure rented properties meet safety standards.

The chief executive of the charted institute for environmental health, Dr Phil James, said he was “delighted” to work with the mayor on the new qualification.

“It should give London councils the route to train up members of their teams with the skills needed in order to support tenants, do more inspections of rented properties and to take more enforcement actions against unscrupulous landlords, who rent out dangerous and unhealthy homes in the city,” he said.

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