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Rent control the way forward say Labour

Thursday 28 September 2017

The first political conference of 2017 kicked off in Brighton on 27 September, with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn announcing that if they win the next General Election, they will introduce rent controls for the private rented sector.

Rent control has been promised by Labour as far back as 2015, with their Party Manifesto claiming, "For the 11 million people who rent privately, we will legislate to make three-year tenancies the norm, with a ceiling on excessive rent rises" and later in their 2017 manifesto "Labour will make new three-year tenancies the norm, with an inflation cap on rent rises. Given the particular pressures in London we will look to giving the Mayor the power to give renters in London additional security".

Corbyn's conference speech brings the policy to the fore again and has quickly garnered discussion among the political media. However, to say that detail is sparse is an understatement. Other than the reference to an inflation cap in the 2017 Manifesto, we know very little about how they plan to enforce a cap and what kind of rent control model they plan to use. 

Speaking at the conference, Mr Corbyn said:

"We will insist that every home is fit for human habitation, a proposal this Tory government voted down. And we will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable."

ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive David Cox responded to the announcement, saying:

The Labour Party clearly hasn’t learnt the lessons of history. The last time rent controls existed the private rented sector went from housing 90 per cent of the population to just seven per cent. Whenever and wherever rent controls are introduced, the quantity of available housing reduces significantly, and the conditions in privately rented properties deteriorate dramatically. Landlords, agents, and successive Governments over the last 30 years have worked hard to improve the conditions of rented properties and this is like taking two steps backwards. Rent control is not the answer – to bring rent costs down we need a concerted house building effort to increase stock in line with ever-growing demand.”