Industry News Sally Walmsley 16/05/2024

Rent controls ‘not Labour policy’

Labour has once again stressed that rent controls are not party policy in the wake of an independent report it commissioned into the private rented sector (PRS).

The report, which was released this week, suggests Labour needs to ‘decrease the country’s dependence on the PRS’ and recommends the introduction of what author Stephen Cowan describes as ‘third-generation rent stabilisation’.

This would include rent caps and restrictions on rent increases.

Cowan, Labour leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, outlined a range of proposals in his report; however, many have already been superseded by amendments to the Renters (Reform) Bill, rendering them obsolete.

These include his proposals for a national landlord register, the abolition of section 21 – (the so-called ‘no-fault’ eviction), a ban on rent review clauses, and limits on when rents can be raised mid-tenancy, all of which form part of the Government’s plans.

Labour and rent control

While tenants’ groups frequently advocate for rent controls, the Labour party line is that they don’t work, something the NRLA has argued for some time.

Despite her role in commissioning the report, Lisa Nandy, the former shadow housing secretary also rejected the idea of rent controls as ‘a sticking plaster’ that would only worsen the country's ongoing homelessness crisis. This is despite previously suggesting she supported plans.

Sir Kier Starmer also stressed rent controls are not party policy earlier this year, with a Labour spokesperson telling The Guardian: “While we do believe action needs to be taken to protect renters and rebalance power, rent controls are not Labour party policy as we remain mindful of the risk they could pose to the availability of rental properties and the harmful impacts any reduction in supply would have on renters.”

In his report, Stephen Cowan, who met with NRLA Chief Executive Ben Beadle as part of the research process, also concluded: ‘First generation rent controls, either freezing or cutting rents will have a detrimental effect on the private rented sector’.

He described the meeting with Ben as ‘positive and constructive’.

NRLA Policy & Campaigns Director Chris Norris was at the launch event. He said: “The fieldwork on which the report was based, was carried out over a year ago, so it is quite dated, with a number of key recommendations already included in the Government’s Renters (Reform) Bill, which currently making its way through Parliament.

“We are pleased to see recognition that moves to artificially lower rents, whether this is through rent controls or caps, could have a potentially devastating effect on the availability of homes to rent – at a time of extraordinarily high demand.”

Sir Keir Starmer has set out what Labour would do first if it wins this year's general election, with addressing the country's housing supply crisis notable by its absence from the list.

The Labour leader has vowed to deliver on six key pledges should the party be successful at the polls, including economic stability, cut NHS waiting lists, launch a border security command, set up a publicly owned clean power energy company and increase the number of neighbourhood police officers and teachers.

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley Magazine and Digital Editor

Sally is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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