Tower Hamlets Council takes Mayor of London to High Court over rents
PUBLISHED: 12:09 23 September 2013 | UPDATED: 12:11 23 September 2013
Town Hall bosses have formally thrown the gauntlet down to Boris Johnson today with a legal challenge to stop social rents soaring to 80 per cent of the market rate.
Tower Hamlets Council in London’s deprived East End has joined seven other boroughs in formally notifying the Mayor of London that they are seeking a High Court judgement on his new rent policy which would prevent town halls deciding themselves how much families can afford.
“We’re going to court to seek justice for our residents,” Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman said.
“Boris’s decision to raise rents to near-market levels is wrong and unlawful.
“We are building more affordable homes in Tower Hamlets than any other area in the country—but this proposal will have a serious impact.
“We should be able to set rents that we know are genuinely affordable in our area.”
The local authorities have historically set social housing rents which are typically around 30-40 per cent of market levels in Inner London, they point out.
Tower Hamlets first submitted evidence on affordable rent policies in the London plan back in November.
Its Cabinet member for Housing, Rabina Khan, insisted: “The Planning Inspector ruled in our favour—but this has been ignored by Boris.
“This will have an impact on vulnerable people and low income families being able to stay in the East End.
“These families have the right to live in Tower Hamlets—this shouldn’t be a decision for the Mayor of London.”
A Planning Inspector recommended that London boroughs should continue setting rents in their own areas, but the London Mayor’s position is contrary to that advice, the local authorities point out. So they are taking it to the High Court.
Tower Hamlets has joined neighbouring Hackney and Greenwich, as well as Islington, Southwark, Lambeth, Camden and Brent, to start legal moves to block Boris’s plans to raise social rents to 80 per cent of the private market rate.