Boris Johnson’s flagship London Rental Standard (LRS) scheme has a less certain future after Sadiq Khan’s team confirmed to The Negotiator that it is now ‘under review’ with a decision on its future likely ‘very soon’.
The LRS is already on shaky ground. Soon after coming to office Khan released papers revealing that City Hall officials warned Boris Johnson back in 2013 that the scheme’s target to sign up 100,000 landlords was “unrealistic and unachievable”.
Launched in May 2014 it is supposed to enable tenants to ‘rent with confidence’ and give landlords ‘peace of mind’ and has the strong support of the industry including the Association of Residential Letting Agents, whose parent organisation NFoPP runs the accreditation programme for ARLA agents wanting to join.
The LRS originally brought seven landlord accreditation schemes across London under one roof but was a voluntary scheme for letting agents and so far, only 338 have signed up to it via their membership of either ARLA, the National Approved Letting Scheme or the UK Association of Letting Agents.
It’s invisible on the main portals and for example Zoopla doesn’t use the logo on the details pages for LRS members such as Foxtons, and agents are left to promote their membership of the LRS within their ‘free text’ areas on the site, many of whom – including Foxtons – don’t.
The landlord accreditation schemes that existed prior to the LRS brought 13,300 landlords with them, so of the 15,369 landlords signed up to the scheme at the moment, 2,069 new ones have joined since 2014. The scheme is growing, albeit slowly and a further 224 landlords have been signed up since May this year.
But barriers to entry for agents are relatively high, which may explain the limited enthusiasm for the project. The London Rental Standard requires at least one member of staff in each agent’s branch to have attained the required standard of training, among other things. High profile agents who have signed up include JLL, the Kings Group, Martin & Co, Ludlow Thompson, Ellis & Co and Foxtons.