Labour Councillors call for a better private rented sector for Westminster

Labour Councillors have called for a better private rented sector for Westminster and have set out their plans in a motion that will be discussed at the next Council meeting on 21st January at Porchester Hall.

Moved by Church Street Councillor Vincenzo Rampulla and seconded by Churchill Ward Councillor Murad Gassanly, the motion reads:

This council notes:

● The enormous growth in the private rented sector, with more than 4 out of 10 households in Westminster now renting from private landlords;

● The high cost of the sector, with households paying around 40 per cent of their income on rents, in Westminster 3 out of 4 private renters rely on benefits to pay their rent;

● The council has this year subsidised private landlords, through housing benefit, an enormous £75 million – partly explained due to average rents in Westminster in 2011-12 have increasing by around £744 whilst wages having decreased by 13 per cent;

● The poor standards within the sector compared to other tenures, with figures showing 4 out of 10 homes still failing to meet Decent Homes standards. In 2011/12 one in 8 homes the council inspected received a legal notice;

● That only 52 per cent of private renters thought renting privately was a ‘good’ tenure, as opposed to 93 per cent owner occupiers and 82 per cent of social renters;

This council resolves to:

● Support for a better private rented sector in Westminster, one that is well-run, well-regulated and offers value for money to both renters and taxpayers;

● Play an active role to play in ensuring a well-run, sufficiently regulated private rental market, producing a dedicated council private rented sector strategy that will focused on:

○ Identifying those areas that represent the worst standards in the borough;
○ To use all legal powers currently available to address poor standards in the private rented sector, including proactively taking enforcement measures;
○ Encouraging the use of longer-term tenancies to add stability for renters;
○ Encouraging institutional investment to increase the supply of new, well-run and affordable rented accommodation in Westminster;
○ Ensuring renters and landlords in Westminster know about the Mayor’s Rental Standard and it is actively championed by the council;

● Support the principle of a borough-wide licensing scheme to champion the better standards in Westminster’s private rented market, commissioning a working group, of equal political representation, to report the possible development and implementation of such a scheme within six months;

● To continue to lobby central Government to ensure local authorities are given stronger powers to intervene in the private rented sector for the benefit of Westminster renters and taxpayers.

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