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Agents hit back at Labour Mayors demand for rent controls

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Mon 12 Jul 2021

Agents hit back at Labour Mayors demand for rent controls

ARLA Propertymark has hit back at a demand from London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan that he be given the powers to control private rents in the capital.

Timothy Douglas, ARLA’s policy and campaigns manager, says: “Letting agents and landlords have been, and continue, supporting tenants through the pandemic, which includes agreeing to reductions in rent in order to sustain tenancies and this should be reflected in the Mayor’s approach to housing going forward.

“There is no evidence that rent controls prove to be effective and they generally lead to unintended consequences that reduce investment, drive down standards and lessen the number of properties available to rent. 

“Additionally, the Tenant Fees Act introduced a cap on deposits and limits the charges that tenants face.

“High demand coupled with a shortage of supply is usually the reason for increased rents. Consequently, if the Mayor is concerned about the cost of renting he should be working with councils across London to build more affordable homes as well as freeing up land under his control for development.”

Last wek Khan claimed that rents in the capital could increase by almost 20 per cent over the next five years, unless he was given powers to control the market.

The forecast was based on his officers’ analysis of a Savills prediction that London rents could rise 19 per cent by 2025; applying this forecast to the latest Rightmove figures for new tenancies, average asking rents could rise to £2,289 a month Khan claims.

He claims that Londoners are currently paying on average 35 per cent of their income on rent, with one in four struggling to pay their rent during the pandemic or expecting to do so shortly

Khan himself says: “Nearly a third of Londoners are private renters, but all too often their calls for support and fairness on rents are overlooked by both landlords and the government.

“I was re-elected on a pledge to redress this balance and to stand up for London’s renters by transforming tenancy laws and wrestling back control of runaway rents. [This] analysis paints a stark picture of the next five years if landlords are allowed to increase prices unchecked.”

In May’s Mayoral election Khan argued for a London Private Rent Commission which would be responsible for designing and implementing rent controls. He wants powers to freeze private rents in the capital to protect renters from the ongoing financial impact of the pandemic.