Sadiq Khan launches Living Rent scheme to ‘help Londoners’

Homing in on rents: London’s mayor Sadiq Khan

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan today released further details of his key manifesto promise to tackle rising rents in the capital, but the announcement was met with immediate criticism for “leaving people behind”.

The London Living Rent scheme will make homes available with rents based on a third of the average household income for each borough.

New homes will be offered to low and middle-income households, typically earning between £35,000 and £45,000, who are currently renting privately.

Mr Khan, who was speaking during a visit to a similar housing scheme in New York’s Harlem, said: “We know that fixing London’s housing crisis won’t happen overnight, and we need to do everything we can to help Londoners who are struggling to pay their rents.

“That’s why I’m working with housing associations and councils to build new homes for London Living Rent – homes that will offer hard-working, low and middle-income families an alternative to renting privately so they can get by and save for a deposit.”

Cautious: London Assembly member Sian Berry says scheme must ‘go further’. Photograph: GLA

London Assembly member Sian Berry welcomed the news, but called for the Mayor to “go further”.

The Green Party councillor said: “It’s good that the Mayor has released details of his Living Rent pledge, but we will eventually need something more sophisticated than this to solve London’s housing crisis.

“There are lots of people who fall below average wages. An arbitrary definition based on a third of the local average income will leave many women and families with children still struggling. Any working people on lower than average incomes, very few of whom stand any chance of getting into social housing, also risk being left behind by this policy.

“London is becoming a place where it’s impossible for working people to live. I will keep pushing the Mayor to go further until we have a full thought out action plan to solve London’s unaffordability crisis.”

Further details of the new scheme will be released in the coming months, but the Mayor has already begun working with housing associations and boroughs on the delivery of new homes at these rent levels through their building programmes.

Promise: Hackney’s new mayor Philip Glanville

The newly-elected Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, made a manifesto pledge that Hackney will be the first borough to build 500 homes for London Living Rent.

He said: “Hackney is already building more social housing than anywhere else in the capital, but it’s also vital that there are more homes which Londoners on middle-incomes can afford to rent and buy.

“The London Living Rent will help people who work hard but are getting priced out of our city, which is why I’m proud that my first act as Mayor is to pledge that Hackney will be the first borough to see 500 homes built at this affordable level.”

In his speech, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also vowed to protect London’s supply of social housing for people on low incomes. He has pledged to work with housing associations to put an end to so-called “rent conversions”, whereby existing social housing is re-let at higher rents.

David Montague, Chief Executive of L&Q and Chair of the G15 of London’s biggest housing associations, said: “The G15 is committed to working with the Mayor to make London a more affordable place to live. We want to provide new homes in a way which doesn’t involve setting rents beyond the reach of ordinary Londoners.

“This can be achieved as part of a mainstream grant-funded affordable housing and regeneration programme in which housing associations retain flexibility over rents and asset management.

“A new agreement could include a move away from rent conversions on existing social rented homes where we agree that these homes are fit for purpose.”

Sadiq Khan is currently touring North America to spread the message that London is still open for business in the wake of June’s Brexit vote.