Zac Goldsmith has pledged to tackle the mounting housing crisis in the Capital in order to curb soaring house prices and rental values, as well as clampdown on high letting fees.
Figures released by Goldsmith’s opponent, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, show that the average letting fee in the Capital has surged by 48 per cent since the last London Mayoral Election in 2012, reflecting a sharp rise in rents.
The Tory mayoral candidate said the problem has been compounded by letting agents asking for a deposit equivalent to six weeks of rent, or at least one month’s rent in advance.
While accepting that tenancy deposits are a necessity to protect landlords, the Richmond Park MP questions whether the fees being charged by letting agents are justifiable.
“The agency fees are still very high – on average across London I think it’s around £330 and I don’t think people get £330-worth from their agents – it’s almost like a scam,” he said. “There are a lot of new businesses emerging where apps are being developed which I think very soon will effectively render the agents redundant.”
London’s PRS has grown significantly over recent years. A decade ago private renting was 17 per cent of London’s housing stock. Today, over 26 per cent of London’s homes are rented privately.
Despite the huge growth in the PRS, the regulations that govern it have remained largely unchanged since the 1980s, and Goldsmith wants to address the issue.
He added, “We’ve got two million renters in Greater London as a whole, a lot of them get a bad deal, insecure tenancies, and paying too much and the conditions aren’t ideal and there’s a lot of rogue landlords as well.
“I think the Housing Bill going through parliament takes us a big step forward (when) dealing with rogue landlords.”
To help address the supply-demand imbalance in the capital, Goldsmith has pledged to build 50,000 homes – double the amount being built in London at the moment.
Goldsmith continued, “I think it’s a mistake not to have any target in terms of the numbers of homes that we build, seriously.
“It’s a big challenge but we can do it.”