You've found your dream flat in Brixton: floor to ceiling windows, exposed brick, and a gas range to die for. The second you step through the door, you're planning your house-warming party and where to place your antique leather armchair. You tell the broker that you're in, and sign away half your monthly income to your future flat.
It's the first of the month, and you arrive at the stoop with a truck full of your carefully curated furniture. Luggage in hand, you go to unlock the front door, and to your utter dismay, the key doesn't fit the lock. You ring the landlord to bring you the correct key, and 3 hours later, you've racked up a hefty movers fee, but he finally arrives and you are inside of your dream flat. You breathe a sigh of relief.
A torrential thunderstorm hits that night, and not only do you wake up to a leaky ceiling, you're power has also gone out! The next morning, you call the landlord to fix these issues, but the number you were given is a fax-line and none of your neighbors seem to have alternative contact details to reach him. And you are only at day two of your two-year lease.
We've all been there. In London, in New York, Tokyo, or Sao Paulo, leasing a flat comes with many inherent risks. While In previous generations, young professionals were accustomed to purchasing property in the early stages of their career, recently, however, owning property has become economically unfeasible for the vast majority of Londoners. Given this transition into an era where the common Londoner now has no choice but to accept these risks, it is important to both minimize these risks and raise the standards of rental properties. Not only does maintaining these standards improve quality of life for the renter, but it has consequential positive economic impacts in the property market, that will, of course, ultimately benefit the landlord.
In attempt to increase living standards for renters in the city, The Mayor of London launched the capital's first ever rental standard, a city-wide badge of accreditation in last May of 2014. To gain accreditation, landlords must sign up for a one-day course to learn about their legal rights and obligations, best practice recommendations, and basic landlord protocols. Following the course, applicants must sign a code of practice and declare that they are a 'fit and proper person', with no convictions for fraud or other offences. The course must be taken once every five years to maintain accreditation. The mayor hopes to accredit 100,000 landlords and agents by 2016.
As London's property economy quickly transitions into a renter's economy, The Mayor of London's initiative is long overdue. Of course, it is certainly imperative that both individual renters' and landlords' legal rights are maintained, but this legislation indeed has macro-level implications, as well. By encouraging landlords to gain accreditation and holding accredited landlords accountable to a higher standard, the entire property game changes. Even those landlords who are not accredited are now challenged to compete with the higher level services provided by the accredited landlords. This shift will result in movement in one of three directions--any of which are beneficial to both property owners and renters, alike.
First, non-accredited landlords will feel as if they need to become accredited in order to compete with their counterparts. Alternatively, non-accredited landlords will not seek accreditation, but will still be forced to provide a higher quality service in order to compete. Lastly, non-accredited landlords will not elevate their level of service, fail to compete, and rightfully be driven out of business. All three of these alternatives are economically beneficial to the property market while concurrently raising the living standard for renters in London.
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Land, Richard Blakeway, said: "With more than a quarter of London's households living in rented homes, the London Rental Standard is driving up the quality of this vital sector and helping millions of Londoners rent with confidence."