Stronger requirements for estate regeneration ballots welcome

July 18th, 2018

Tom Copley AM responds to the Mayor’s consultation on ballots for estate regeneration schemes

April 11th, 2018

Prime Minister’s speech proves Government is far behind the curve on tackling London’s housing crisis

March 5th, 2018

Mayor urged to press Government to end fuel poverty in London

February 26th, 2018

Tom Copley AM strongly welcomes ballots for estate residents facing demolition in new Mayor’s guidance

February 2nd, 2018

The government must get its house in order on the home sharing economy

January 29th, 2018

Stronger requirements for estate regeneration ballots welcome

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Responding to the Mayor of London’s announcement that from today, major estate regeneration schemes involving demolition of social homes must have the backing of residents, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“With estate residents usually the only group of people who face the prospect of having their homes demolished, I am really pleased with the Mayor’s decision to require ballots wherever demolition takes place as a condition of funding for regeneration schemes. It is also good to see the strengthening of these requirements with guidance on how funding can be clawed back when a completed project doesn’t honour what was promised by the landlord, and with the stipulation that ballots will be conducted by an independent body.

“We want to see that estate regeneration delivers better quality homes and more affordable housing. But unless it is done with resident support, schemes can face being blighted from the start. This is something that both the London Assembly and community groups have been calling for in recent years and I’m pleased that the Mayor has listened.

“I’d also echo the Mayor’s call on London councils and housing associations to adopt his commitment to balloting residents on non-GLA funded regeneration schemes they oversee.”

Ends

Notes

  • Tom Copley is a Londonwide Assembly Member

Tom Copley AM responds to the Mayor’s consultation on ballots for estate regeneration schemes

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

Tom Copley AM has responded to the Mayor of London’s consultation on ballots for estate regeneration schemes on behalf of the London Assembly Labour Group.

His response is available here.

Prime Minister’s speech proves Government is far behind the curve on tackling London’s housing crisis

Monday, March 5th, 2018

In response to the Prime Minister’s speech earlier today, in which she set out the Government’s proposals to tackle to the housing crisis, Labour’s London Assembly Spokesperson for Housing, Tom Copley AM said:

“For years, the Government has been far behind the curve in addressing the sheer lack of genuinely affordable housing in London and across the country. What we needed the Prime Minister to announce today was major public investment in new social and council housing. What we got instead were the same tired old platitudes about the planning system we’ve been hearing from minister for years.

“Whilst some of the proposals announced today for reforming national planning laws are welcome, such as tackling abuse of viability assessments by developers, I am troubled by her attempts to shift the blame of the Government’s failures, onto councils for obstructing increases to housing supply.

“This is simply not the case, when councils are currently responsible for approving nine in 10 planning applications, and over the last year have granted almost twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that had been completed.

“It’s a bit much for the Government to blame councils for a lack of housebuilding when ministers refuse to give councils the powers and finances necessary for them to build large numbers of homes directly. The Treasury refuses to remove the borrowing cap for council house building, which means it’s easier for a council to borrow to buy a shopping centre than to build new homes. Despite a manifesto pledge to give councils the power to buy up land to build on at a fair market value, the Government has so far failed to deliver this.

“The cuts that they have made to housing investment have led to the lowest number of new social rented homes built on record.

“In stark contrast, we have a Mayor that is taking pragmatic steps to build the genuinely affordable housing that Londoners desperately need. Judging from the Prime Minister’s speech, the Government should take note”.

Ends

Notes:

  • On 5th March 2018, in a speech, the Prime Minister set out the Government’s proposals to tackle the housing crisis in the UK.
  • According to the Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA), Gary Porter, councils are currently responsible for approving nine in ten planning applications, and over the last year have granted almost twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that had been completed.
  • Analysis of the latest data from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) shows that in 2015/2016, the lowest number of new social rented homes were built since records began.
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member and Labour’s London Assembly Spokesperson for Housing.

Mayor urged to press Government to end fuel poverty in London

Monday, February 26th, 2018

Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, has urged the Mayor to press the Government to back measures to end fuel poverty in the capital. Mr Copley has written to the Mayor to call on his support for a £5,000 cost cap per property when meeting the domestic minimum level of energy efficiency in his Fuel Poverty Action Plan, which is expected to be published later this year.

Private rented sector tenants in London are at particular risk of fuel poverty. According to the latest available data, it is estimated that 335,000 households in the capital are currently unable to sufficiently heat their homes.

The Mayor’s draft Fuel Poverty Action Plan for London estimates that the inability to heat homes may have been a contributory factor in up to 4,000 Excess Winter deaths in London between 2011 and 2016. On a national level, the latest figures show that an estimated 9,000 people died during the winter of 2014/2015, as a result of living in a cold home.

The Government has announced that from April 2019, minimum energy efficiency standards will prohibit private landlords from renting out properties with energy performance certificates that fall below Band E in England and Wales. The Government plans to introduce a £2,500 cap on the amount that any private landlord would need to invest on an individual property. However, Mr Copley has raised concerns that this threshold is too low to effectively address fuel poverty in London.

After recently passing a London Assembly motion on the matter, he has written to the Mayor asking him to support a higher cap of £5,000 in his upcoming Fuel Poverty Action Plan for London, and to press the Government to adopt this measure.

Mr Copley has highlighted that this higher cap would allow urgent social and environmental work to be carried out as soon as possible, boost property values and secure greater savings for residents. In addition, evidence from the Government’s own assessments show that the adoption of the higher cap of £5,000, instead of the proposed lower cap of £2,500, would lead to 120,000 more households in England and Wales benefiting from better insulation over the next two years.

Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“London has the highest number of private rented sector tenants in the country, and private tenants are particularly at risk of fuel poverty.

“This has a profound impact on the health of tenants in over 300,000 households in the capital that are unable to sufficiently heat their homes – and it is estimated that thousands of people in the UK die every winter as a result of living in a cold home. This is appalling and unacceptable.

“That’s why I am calling on the Mayor of London to press the Government to go further and support a £5,000 cost cap per property when meeting the domestic minimum level of energy efficiency, and to support this higher cost cap in his expected Fuel Poverty Action Plan.

“A higher cap would ensure that some of the most vulnerable Londoners are not left in dangerous and unhealthy homes any longer, as well as lowering energy bills for tenants. Landlords would also benefit from the increase in the value of the property”.

Ends

Notes

  • Tom Copley AM has written to the Mayor to call on his support for a £5,000 cost cap per property when meeting the domestic minimum level of energy efficiency in his Fuel Poverty Action Plan. The letter can be found here.
  • It is estimated that 335,000 households in London are currently unable to sufficiently heat their homes;
  • The Mayor’s draft Fuel Poverty Action Plan for London estimates that the inability to heat homes may have been a contributory factor in up to 4,000 Excess Winter Deaths in London, over a five-year period between 2011 and 2016;
  • On a national level, the latest figures show that an estimated 9,000 people died during the winter of 2014/2015 as a result of living in a cold home;
  • The Mayor’s Fuel Poverty Action Plan is due to be published later in the year. The draft Plan was published in August;
  • The Government intends to introduce a lower cap of £2,500 on the amount any that landlord would need to invest on an individual property;
  • In February, Tom Copley AM passed a London Assembly motion calling for a £5,000 cost cap on landlord funding contributions;
  • The Government’s own assessment undertaken late last year has warned that the lower cap will mean only 139,200 households in England and Wales will benefit from better insulation by April 2020. This is 121,000 fewer households than if the cap was set at £5,000.

Tom Copley AM strongly welcomes ballots for estate residents facing demolition in new Mayor’s guidance

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Responding to the Mayor of London’s announcement that residents will be balloted on estate regeneration, Labour’s London Assembly Housing Spokesperson, Tom Copley AM, said:

“Estate residents are generally the only group of people who face the prospect of having their homes demolished, so I strongly welcome the Mayor’s decision to require ballots where demolition takes place as a condition of funding for regeneration schemes. Estate regeneration when done well can deliver better quality homes and more affordable housing. But without resident support, schemes can face being blighted from the start. I’m pleased that the Mayor has listened to community groups, as well as the unanimous voice of the London Assembly.

“It’s important that it’s actual residents who have their say. Therefore I would urge that private tenants on estates are balloted, rather than the non-resident landlords they rent from.

“I welcome the reassurance from the Mayor that there will be no net loss of social housing, and that replacement homes will be delivered on the basis of floorspace rather than total number of units. This is crucial to prevent the loss of much needed family-sized homes. It’s essential that this guidance operates as a floor of expectations of good practice in London, and that as far as possible regeneration is led by or done in partnership with residents.”

Ends

Notes

  • Tom Copley is a Londonwide Assembly Member

The government must get its house in order on the home sharing economy

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Airbnb rentals grew by 50 per cent in London between 2016 and 2017. [1]

A new report out today by London Assembly Member Tom Copley is calling for more effective regulation of short-term lettings to clamp down on people who break the law by turning their homes into hotels by the back door.

The massive growth in the sharing economy has gazumped the government and radically transformed the short-term rental market in London. Airbnb was founded in 2008 and a decade later now lists over a million properties in many different cities across the world.

Local and national governments have been slow to adapt. Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms have become embroiled in bitter political battles over the lack of housing supply and increasing amenity pressures on some local communities. Sharing platforms are not the primary cause of the strain on long-term housing, but the huge growth in the sector is adding pressure. It’s clear that short-term letting platforms are here to stay, so it’s crucial that the regulatory framework is robust.

In 2015, the Government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government changed the law around short-term lets when it limited short-term letting of whole residential premises in London to a maximum of 90 days in a calendar year.  [2]

However, London boroughs have never had immediate access to any information that confirms a property is being used for short-term lettings and there is no requirement to notify a borough of such an intention or use. Instead, the impetus is on boroughs to prove that a home is not only available for 90 nights a year but has been booked and occupied.

Without accurate data on the number of nights booked, boroughs are only alerted through reports from local residents, requiring pro-active evidence gathering by the local authority. Without access to data, it is impossible to investigate and effectively enforce against breaches in short-term lettings. [3]

From 1st January 2017, Airbnb chose to voluntarily enforce the 90-day limit, but so-far other platforms have been slow to follow suit. A recent report by Airbnb found that in the year since the enforcement was introduced properties booked for more than 90 nights had dropped from 21 per cent of the total to 7 per cent. [4]

The Labour London Assembly spokesperson on Housing, Tom Copley said:

“Airbnb’s decision last year to voluntarily enforce the 90-day limit on short-term lets was a very welcome step forward, but they’re no longer the only player in the market. It’s vital that they and other short-term rental platforms continue to engage with local communities and city authorities. They should be looking to work with national and local government to help lay the right regulatory framework to protect long-term housing and build cohesive communities. 

“Let’s sort out information sharing immediately – for everyone’s peace of mind. Cash-strapped local authorities are struggling to enforce against people who turn their homes into hotels by the back door. We need home-sharing platforms to share data with councils to help them target the minority of hosts who abuse the system.

“Government should also legislate to require that short-term lettings hosts register with their local authority. This should be simple and free.  None of this is rocket science – it’s simply catching up with and effectively regulating new technology.

“I’m horrified that breaches of security, especially around door codes, are accompanied by anecdotes of extreme problems for neighbours, including confrontations with guests and properties being used for parties or even brothels. Given these impacts on neighbours, it is unsurprising London’s most affected local authorities are so concerned about the issues raised by short-term lets. Let’s give them the tools they need to clamp down on abuses of the system.”  

Ends

Notes

  1. GLA (2017) Housing in London: 2017 The evidence base for the Mayor’s Housing Strategy available at: https://files.datapress.com/london/dataset/housing-london/2017-01-26T18:50:00/Housing-in-London-2017-report.pdf [Accessed 14.8.17] pg.67
  2. DCLG (2015) Promoting the Sharing Economy in London: Policy on short-term residential use in London p6.  Properties cannot be used as temporary sleeping accommodation on a permanent basis throughout the year, and any impact on local amenity is kept within acceptable limits.
  3. Evidence of Councillor, at the Short-term Lets in a Housing Crisis Roundtable, City Hall, 21/2/17
  4. Airbnb, (2017), Bringing You Home Sharing By Region, pg.46
  5. Tom Copley AM’s report ‘More BnB? Short-term Lets in London’s Housing Crisis’ recommendations include:
  • The Mayor of London should continue to put pressure on platforms to voluntarily share their data with local authorities to assist with enforcement activity. If voluntary measures are not effective then the Mayor should campaign for the government to change legislation to force websites to hand over the details of property owners suspected of for breaking the 90 day year limit on short-term lets.
  • The Mayor should encourage home-sharing platforms to follow Airbnb’s lead by voluntarily enforcing the 90-day limit.
  • The Mayor should lobby the government to hand over to the Mayor of London the power to determine applications from boroughs to ban the renting out of whole properties for short-term lets using Article 4 directions.
  • The Mayor should lobby the government to legislate that short-term lettings hosts must register with their local authority. This should be a simple and free process.
  • The Mayor should write to local authorities asking them to ensure their leasehold agreements require that the property be used as a permanent residence and write to all their leaseholders informing them of this.
  • The Mayor should write to Housing Associations and ask them to write to their shared ownership leaseholders reminding them that they must not sub-let their home, including on a short-term basis.
  • The Mayor should write to short-term lettings management companies asking them to advise homeowners of their legal obligations, and to refuse to let a property for more than 90 days without planning permission.
  • Home-sharing platforms should consider creating an ombudsman paid for by the industry to prevent home-sharing fraud, help with enforcement, solve resolution disputes, investigate complaints, and help redistribute the responsibility for enforcement away from cash-strapped councils. The Mayor should facilitate a discussion with home-sharing platforms on this.

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