Boris johnson’s failed London Rental standard

David Lawrenson of LettingFocus recalls Boris Johnson’s failure, as Mayor of London, to deliver on the London Rental Standard. It showed how he likes big targets and how he failed to reach them , very similar to his failure on Covid virus.

Do you remember Boris Johnson’s “London Rental Standard “?

If you are in London you might.

This was a voluntary scheme introduced by the then Mayor of London, a certain Boris Johnson, back in 2014.

The scheme was supported by the landlord associations and the local authorities and it was pushed by the likes of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) who did a brave, but ultimately losing job, of promoting the scheme and trying to get its members interested in it.

Boris Johnson’s vision, (if you can imagine him ever having a vision beyond becoming “Prime Minister Churchill Mark 2”), was one of accrediting all residential landlords in London, and somehow “aiming to drive improvements in property standards in the capital”.

I’m not sure how the last bit was actually to be achieved, no one was. But Boris has always been light on the detail stuff. Sure, there was some typical Boris Johnson guff about “providing training and qualification schemes, appraising rental properties and generally raising professional standards in the capital’s private rented sector by providing a consistent standard of accreditation to consumers” but it was all very vague.

There was a requirement in the London Rental Standard to have a written rental agreement, a protected tenancy deposit, reasonable notice of access, minimum times for emergency and urgent repairs and property conditions that comply with legal requirements. All great stuff and fine words, but ultimately all the stuff that landlords have to do by law anyway.

At the end, only 14,100 landlords had voluntarily agreed to the London Rental Standard code of practice.

The trouble was that Boris Johnson, as the Mayor of London, had wanted 100,000 of London’s 300,000 landlords at that time to have agreed to the London Rental Standard within a year or so, so the target was missed by a very wide margin indeed.

Sound familiar, that 100,000 number?

It should do.

Now, as Prime Minister, Boris had hoped to have 100,000 people tested each day by the end of April 2020 for the Covid “virus”, but he is still nowhere near achieving that goal either.

Clearly, he has some real affinity for the number, 100,000.

I had a tiny walk on part in this London Rental Standard story too.

Sometime in 2015 I was asked to come and see Richard Blakeway, who was at that time in charge of housing for Boris in the capital, to talk about the London Rental Standard and what could be done to push it.

I pointed out a number of things that could be done to promote it to landlords and tenants, for free using the London Councils heavy web presence. But I also pointed out that without some incentives in place to join it, landlords were not going to be joining in droves. I said that I could help Mr. Blakeway put together a plan to get the thing moving.

He smiled and said all nice things, but the phone never rang again from Mr. Blakeway’s office.

Now, in 2020, Mr. Blakeway is Housing Ombudsman, (jobs for the boys), and Boris Johnson is our hapless Prime Minister who seems to be in charge of the economic suicide otherwise known as the UK’s response to the Covid “pandemic” and of course, delivering Brexit.

In May 2017, the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the scrapping of the London Rental Standard project, He instead launched a new proposal to introduce a database of rogue agents and landlords . This has also been a dismal failure with only a handful of rogue agents and landlords on the database.

So, what have we learned from the failed London Rental Standard?

Well surely the main message is that Boris Johnson likes big projects, he likes big numbers but he is awful on the detail of how to get these big numbers achieved.

It is just like testing for this virus. Big sounding targets but nothing on the detail of how to get there.

He’s a bluffer, a charlatan. Now he is wrecking the UK’s economy in his hapless response to the Covid virus. He has no plan, there is no detail. He has a coterie of advisors who have proved themselves useless at winning support (Dominic Cummings) or providing good science (Neil Ferguson). He is deaf to the idea of getting experienced people from business on board who could actually provide some experience of big roll outs and of logistics.

He is certainly no Winston Churchill.

Churchill was an ideas man, yes, maybe a bit of a winger at times, often inebriated and who didn’t bother getting out of bed until 11am most days. But he knew enough to surround himself with smart people, whether from the labour unions or big business who did know how to get things done.

As PM, Boris Johnson seems to have few bright minds around him. He proved as London Mayor, time and again, that he could not deliver. We should not be surprised that he has failed to deliver now.


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  • I had never heard of this scheme – very interesting to read about it, thank you for sharing.
    Do you have any ideas for a better solution? I wonder if technology could be the answer – something like a TripAdvisor style ratings app for London landlords?

    • Thanks for the comment.
      You probably never heard of it – and neither did many others, that was one problem. No marketing tends to lead to failure.
      Not sure I am too keen about TripAdvisor style thing, but smart landlords should keep references from former tenants. I do.
      I suppose a TripAdvisor style thing could work but should be a quid pro quo – we should be able to comment on tenants – both good and bad. Cannot see the current Mayor Khan being too keen on landlords being able to write up about tenants online though.

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