Councils take Boris Johnson to court over ‘affordable’ rent
Nine London councils are bringing a High Court challenge against Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, in a bid to protect genuinely affordable rents for local people.
Tower Hamlets, Brent, Camden, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth and Southwark councils are challenging the Mayor’s Revised Early Minor Alterations (REMA) to the London Plan.
For many years, boroughs have been able to ensure new affordable housing is provided at rents local people can afford. Typically, in inner London that is 30-40 per cent of market levels.
However, the Mayor is seeking to impose ‘affordable’ rents in new housing of up to 80 per cent of the market rate, refusing to allow boroughs to negotiate lower rents that local people can afford.
The boroughs will argue that rents at 80 per cent of market levels will be unaffordable for many local people. They are also arguing that the Mayor of London was wrong to treat London as a single housing market, when there are in fact many different housing markets across the city.
Boris Johnson’s position runs contrary to the advice of an independent Government-appointed Planning Inspector, who recommended that boroughs should keep their powers to set rents in new affordable housing.
The statutory challenge will be heard in the High Court on March 13 and 14.
Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, said: “London’s rental market is already overheated, and it is vital that we keep rents at a level that people on low incomes can actually afford.
“Boris Johnson’s plans could price many local people, especially families on low incomes and those who are vulnerable, out of much of London.”
Councillor Rabina Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Boris Johnson’s current plans for housing seem to have overlooked the need for truly affordable housing in our city.
“We have undertaken thorough research on the rent levels local residents can afford and together with the eight other boroughs I believe we have a strong case.”
The Mayor of London’s proposal applies to new affordable housing built in London. Existing council tenancies and the majority of housing association tenancies will be unaffected.