Labour's London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan's election manifesto includes a raft of measures which he claimed are aimed at directly improving the lot of London’s renters, saying that an "entire generation" of private tenants had been "failed by the Tories".
It is unsurprising Mr Khan is looking to woo this sector of the electorate, which is huge and growing at an unprecedented rate. In London there are now more families who rent than own their home and they are paying increasingly large sums of money to do so.
According to ONS data, private rents grew by 3.9 per cent on average in London over the year to December 2015, but the capital's average weekly earnings for full-time workers remained flat during the same period.
Central to Khan’s vision to protect private renters in the capital was a proposal to "name and shame" landlords who had been convicted of housing-related offences, outlining plans for an online database of landlords who had been successfully prosecuted for housing-related offences.
It’s difficult to see a downside to having this facility available for private tenants. As someone who has set up a site for renters to review their properties, I know first-hand why a service like this is so incredibly valuable and much-needed.
The only surprising thing about this policy pledge is that this database is not already publicly available. As increasingly savvy consumers, we’re so used to being able to check-up on service providers before we part with our hard-earned cash.
If I want to find out which cafes and restaurants have fallen foul of food hygiene legislation, a quick online search reveals where the offenders are – so I know to avoid them.
As a house-hunting tenant I have no such facilities available to me – which strikes me as odd when one considers how technology is continually being deployed to empower so many other purchasing decisions.
With London rents making up more than 30 per cent of average income, tenants are right to feel entitled to receive a better service in a more secure private rental sector.
As with every consumer transaction, knowledge is power. Tenants currently sign a contract with a landlord and hope for the best.
Landlords, on the other hand (quite rightly) credit and reference check their tenants and demand a substantial cash deposit before they let a tenant move in to their property.
This fundamental unfairness at the heart of the private rental sector has to stop. Change cannot come soon enough.