“It is a scandal that some private landlords are profiting from letting sub-standard housing that is unfit for 21st century living,” said Khan.
“Renters would feel more secure raising complaints about the condition of their property if they didn’t face the threat of arbitrary eviction, which is why I have long called for Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions to be abolished. The government should also give me the power to drive up standards and introduce a rent freeze in London to help people during this cost of living crisis.
“If we are to continue building a better London for everyone, we need the government to step up to empower our city’s renters. Ministers must urgently introduce the long-promised Renters Reform legislation, properly fund borough private rented sector enforcement teams, and increase the fines for landlords who break the rules.”
However, despite support for rent controls in the UK’s devolved nations, the Conservative government has repeatedly rejected Khan’s proposals to intervene in the rental market.
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “Councils should use the powers we’ve given them to crack down on rogue landlords, including issuing fines of up to £30,000 and banning those who rent out unsafe homes.
“Evidence shows rent controls in the private sector do not work, leading to declining standards and a lack of investment and may encourage illegal subletting.”
Outside of London, Yorkshire and the Humber is the area where landlords receive the most cash from non-decent properties, taking in nearly £1bn in rent from around 160,000 properties, funded by £130m a year in housing benefit.
Meanwhile, private landlords in the South West accumulated around £870m in rent, with more than £160m of this coming from housing benefit through letting sub-standard homes.
Dan Wilson Craw, the acting director of Generation Rent, said: “It is an outrage that not only can private landlords provide worse accommodation than social landlords, but they get paid more for it. Increasing reliance on the private sector to provide housing has resulted in a higher bill for the public purse with nothing to show for it but poorer living standards.
“The government has an opportunity with the upcoming Renters Reform Bill to give private renters higher expectations of their landlord, and introduce much tougher penalties for landlords who fall short of the Decent Homes Standard.”
London Renters Union urged the government to invest in public housing, describing the figures as showing the “cost of privatisation”.
However, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, called for councils to do more to tackle rogue landlords but agreed with the government’s rejection of rent controls.
Beadle said: “Freezing rents would serve only to drive responsible landlords out of the market, exacerbate the supply crisis faced by tenants and leave them at the mercy of rogue and criminal landlords.”
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