London boroughs vow to continue to fight for affordable rents

London boroughs are set to continue their fight for lower rents in new, affordable housing – despite a High Court judge today dismissing their attempt to go against the Mayor of London by imposing lower rent limits across the board.
Tower Hamlets, Camden, Brent, Enfield, Greenwich, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Hackney and councils had challenged the Mayor’s plan to allow ‘affordable’ rents in new housing to be set at up to 80 per cent of the market rate.
The nine councils argued that they should be allowed to set lower rent limits in new affordable housing – since rents at anywhere close to 80 per cent of market levels would be unaffordable for many local people. Until now, councils have been able to insist on social rents that are typically around 30-40 percent of market level in inner London.
In a judgment handed down today (25 March) the Honourable Mrs Justice Lang DBE said that “all parties agree that more affordable rented housing is needed in London, at levels below 80 percent of market value, but they disagree about how best to realise this aim.” She ruled that the Mayor had acted within his power, and that the Mayor’s Plan leaves it open to boroughs to fight for lower rents on individual developments, particularly in developments that are not funded by the Mayor.
Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “There is a fundamental need to ensure that ‘affordable rent’ is genuinely affordable to ordinary families. We will continue to do all we can in Tower Hamlets to ensure that our residents have suitable housing available to them.”
Councillor Rabina Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing said: “This is disappointing. Our research tells us that the rent levels that local residents can afford does not match the policy being put forward by Boris Johnson. The ruling allows us to continue to fight for lower rents on individual developments, and we will do so.”
The Mayor of London’s proposal applies to new affordable housing built in London. Existing council tenancies and the majority of housing association tenancies are unaffected.

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