New Battersea report makes strong case for pet-friendly properties

November 27th, 2018

More must be done to cut winter deaths in London’s private rented homes

November 23rd, 2018

Tom Copley AM: government should have lifted borrowing cap sooner to tackle housing crisis

October 3rd, 2018

Land value capture “could trigger a monumental shift in how we incentivise house building in this country” – Tom Copley AM

September 13th, 2018

Tom Copley AM response to MHCLG consultation on longer tenancies for private tenants

August 28th, 2018

Tom Copley AM responds to the government’s announcement of a £100m nationwide rough sleeping fund

August 13th, 2018

New Battersea report makes strong case for pet-friendly properties

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Last night it was a pleasure to speak at the launch of Battersea’s new report into pet friendly properties at City Hall. A short summary of my speech is below:

I really welcome Battersea’s new report on pet friendly properties. This is an issue that I feel personally very strongly about: I’m a private tenant and I’m not allowed pets.

10% of people giving up their dogs do so because landlords don’t allow pets. I grew up with cats. They’re always part of the family. I can’t imagine how distressing an heartbreaking it must be to have to give up your pets because you move home and your new landlord won’t allow you to keep them.

This is a particular issue for London. Half of Londoners rent either from the council, housing association or private landlord. This is forecast to rise to 60% by 2025.

Pets bring great joy and have an extremely positive effect on mental health. One of the most striking statistics in this report is that pet ownership saves the NHS £2.5bn a year.

At a time when NHS budgets, particularly funding for mental health, is very tight, there is clearly a financial case to ensure people who wish to own a pet can do so. Though this is no substitute for properly funding our NHS.

I think the emphasis on responsible pet ownership in the report is welcome, and should reassure landlords. I’m pleased that Battersea is offering its services via the Pet Ready Training Programme.

As a Lewisham councillor I’m delighted that our local community housing association, Phoenix, is held up in the report as an example of good practice, allowing their residents to keep a dog or cat so long as they do not cause a nuisance. They’ve also partnered with Battersea to offer free microchipping and advice on responsible pet ownership. This is a common-sense approach which I hope other landlords will emulate.

I’m also really pleased that the Labour party nationally has a policy of giving tenants a default right to pets. This would bring the UK into line with countries like Belgium and Italy, which allow tenants the right to keep small pets.

More must be done to cut winter deaths in London’s private rented homes

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

Cold homes are estimated to have been a contributory factor in 3,400 excess winter deaths in London in 2016/17. I’ve written for On London about why the government’s minimum energy efficiency standards for private rented homes don’t go far enough.

Click here to read the article.

Tom Copley AM: government should have lifted borrowing cap sooner to tackle housing crisis

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Responding to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government will remove the cap on council borrowing to build, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“Over the last few years councils across London have been building high quality new council homes for social rent for the first time in a generation. Yet their capacity to deliver could not match their ambitions because of central government borrowing restrictions.

“We have long called on the Government to lift the cap on council borrowing to build new homes as part of a series of measures to trigger the return of mass council housing building. At long last they are beginning to listen. If only the Government had acted sooner, we could have made even more progress in tackling London’s housing crisis.

“In London, under Sadiq Khan, we’ve made significant progress with the Mayor announcing earlier this year plans to support councils in delivering 10,000 new council homes.

“However, it is also imperative that the Government puts a swift end to their disastrous Right to Buy policy, which has seen the mass sell-off of council homes at a discount across the capital and been one of the key drivers of the housing crisis.”

Ends

Land value capture “could trigger a monumental shift in how we incentivise house building in this country” – Tom Copley AM

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Responding to calls from the Housing, Communities, and Local Government Committee for the Government to allow authorities to pilot land value capture, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“If the Government is receptive to allowing local authorities to trial new ways of capturing land value, this could trigger a monumental shift in how we incentivise house building in this country.

“The price of land is the biggest part of the cost of building a house. By reforming outdated compulsory purchase laws to give local authorities the ability to buy up land cheaply at close to its current value we can deliver many more genuinely affordable homes, especially those at social rent levels.

“By introducing some form of land value capture, such as a Land Value Tax, we could help to fund vital infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2.

“This could also see land brought forward for development at a much quicker pace, by discouraging land banking.

“This isn’t a push for additional taxation, but to replace existing property taxes like council tax, business rates and stamp duty with a fairer system that captures unearned wealth.

“Through my campaign for a trial of Land Value Tax in London, I have seen that there is support from across the political spectrum, including the Mayor of London, for something of this kind. The Government must now show willing to get on board, and at the very least I’d like them to hand City Hall the powers to trial a Land Value Tax here in London.”

Ends

Notes

  • Tom Copley’s report, ‘Tax Trial – A Land Value Tax for London’, which was published on behalf of the London Assembly Planning Committee, can be found here;
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member

Tom Copley AM response to MHCLG consultation on longer tenancies for private tenants

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

I have responded to the Government’s consultation on proposals to introduce longer tenancies in the Private Rented Sector.

I am pleased that there is an acknowledgement that the current system in England is not fit for purpose in the twenty-first century, given the way that household tenure has changed since the Housing Act 1988 introduced Assured Shorthold Tenancies.

In 1990, only 11% of households in London were in the private rented sector – in 2017, this had risen to 27.4%, now a greater proportion than live in the social rented sector.

Where historically, the perception of private renters is of being mostly students and individuals in their 20s, there are now significant numbers of families and older people living in private rented homes, and our model of tenancy should be updated to provide stability and security to these groups.

While I welcome the Government’s proposal to introduce a three year tenancy as standard as an important step forward, I believe they should go further. I am calling for:

  • Open-ended tenancies as standard.
  • Rents may rise once per year with any increase capped at CPI.
  • No probationary period, as it could be used by landlords as a loophole to evict tenants before they achieve security of tenure.
  • An end to no fault (“Section 21”) eviction. Landlords will still be able to evict tenants on existing Section 8 eviction grounds including: if they wish to live in the property as their principle home, if the tenant has 8 weeks or more rent arrears, if the tenancy agreement is breached, if the tenant is damaging the property and in cases where a tenant is causing anti-social behaviour.
  • Tenants may terminate the tenancy by giving two months’ notice to the landlord.

This would bring England’s private rented sector into line with countries like Scotland and Germany.

You can find my full response to the consultation questions here.

Tom Copley AM responds to the government’s announcement of a £100m nationwide rough sleeping fund

Monday, August 13th, 2018

In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement today of a £100 million nationwide fund, which will go towards ending rough sleeping, Labour’s London Assembly Spokesperson for Housing, Tom Copley AM, said:

“The money announced today will be used to try to fire fight the dreadful and predictable consequences of the government’s welfare cuts, which have been one of the drivers of rising homelessness.

“£100 million of funding spread thinly nationwide over the next ten years is clearly insufficient when the Mayor of London has recently calculated that £574 million is needed, in London alone, over the next five years to get to grips with rough sleeping.

“It is imperative that they tackle the root causes of homelessness by reversing the pernicious cuts that they have handed down to already cash-strapped local authorities, and their disastrous welfare reforms, such as the roll-out of universal credit.

“There is also the pressing issue of hidden homelessness, with thousands stuck in temporary accommodation in London. If the government are serious about turning this increasingly desperate situation around, they need to start adequately investing in the genuinely affordable homes that Londoners need.”

Ends

Notes

  • The National Audit Office has reported that changes to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) have contributed to rising homelessness;
  • As part of his new Rough Sleeping Plan of Action, the Mayor of London has called for £574 million of funding for London alone over the next five years;
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member.

Vast swathes of London are becoming unaffordable even to those on “good” incomes

April 2nd, 2014

We need to turn the landlord’s house into the tenant’s home

March 19th, 2014

We need Homes for London

February 3rd, 2014