Sadiq Khan hints at pushing for London rent controls

The Guardian reports that London mayor Sadiq Khan may be considering the introduction of capping rent prices across London.

The newspaper says that it has seen a letter from the mayor addressed to Labour’s Karen Buck MP, who represents Westminster North.

Khan is quoted with writing: “I agree with you that London needs a strategic approach to rent stabilisation and control.

“I have long advocated such reforms; in 2013, I suggested reforms could give renters the right to longer-term tenancies and predictable rents. The housing crisis is now having such an effect on a generation of Londoners that the arguments in favour of rent stabilisation and control are becoming overwhelming.”

The subject of rent controls is not a new one for Labour, with party leader Jeremy Corbyn proposing to introduce them in September last year – a statement that was criticised by some in the industry commentators.

In 2019, the mayor’s office is due to publish a blueprint for private rented sector reform named the ‘London Model’, the headline proposals for which include replacing the assured shorthold tenancy with open-ended tenancies and ending no fault evictions while protecting the rights of landlords.

Deputy mayor for housing & residential development James Murray comments: “The mayor has been frustrated by his lack of powers to help the 2.4 million Londoners who rent their homes privately, many of whom he believes are being let down by a legislative framework which is out of date and not fit for purpose.

“Although he has no powers over tenancies or rent levels, his ‘London Model’ will set out a proposed blueprint for reforming tenancies, which he will urge ministers to adopt.

“However, security of tenure cannot be separated from affordability and the huge pressures Londoners face from rising rents. Sadiq believes the impact of the housing crisis on a whole generation of Londoners is so severe that the arguments in favour of rent stabilisation and control are becoming overwhelming. Once his ‘London Model’ work is complete in spring 2019, he will consider what measures to campaign and lobby for to help address affordability in London’s private rented sector.”

BespokeFinance founder Adam Hosker takes a critical tone. He says: “The mayor of London needs a scapegoat for a failing London housing policy, and he proposes you blame landlords.”

Dismissing Kahn’s comments as “political theatre”, he points to recent research conducted by the Residential Landlords Association that shows London rents rising by 0.2 per cent in the 12 months to June 2018.

“The policy [would do] nothing for renters, though with eleven of the UK’s worst performing rental yield postcodes in London and Greater London, landlords will celebrate the mayor enabling them to increase rents by Inflation rather than 0.2 per cent,” he concludes.

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