by: Mary-Anne Bowring/Property Reporter
Disaster for Tenants
Proposals by the Mayor of London for rent controls in the capital would be a disaster for tenants, driving landlords away from the capital, limiting the availability and quality of rental properties and, ultimately, increasing rents. As Sadiq Khan once again seeks the powers to introduce them, the National Residential Landlords Association is pointing to a report published by The Treasury in 2010 under the last Labour Government, of which the Mayor was a member. Assessing the impact of rent controls before they were abolished in 1988, the report warned that they had been a major factor in the “decay of much of the inner city housing stock.”
The Mayor's proposals fly in the face also of the Centre for Cities which has warned that strict rent controls “would close off London to new residents” and the Resolution Foundation which has concluded that holding down the true market price of private housing via rent controls rather than increasing housing supply is unlikely to succeed. Professor Kath Scanlon, a housing expert at the London School of Economics last year warned too that the Mayor's rent control proposals would result in landlords simply leaving the market. Chris Norris, Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “Rent controls would be a disaster for anyone looking for somewhere to rent.
Drive Landlords out of the Market
As history and experience elsewhere tells us, all they would do is drive landlords out of the market exacerbating an already serious shortage of homes available. “Rather than driving a wedge between landlords and tenants, the Mayor should focus on using the powers he already has to boost the supply of available housing, including for private rent. Only then will he make any discernible impact on improving the affordability of housing across the capital." He continued: “We do though support the Mayor's calls for greater financial support for tenants struggling with rent arrears. In the end, this would help them, and the majority of landlords who are individuals and not property tycoons, to sustain tenancies.”
Mary-Anne Bowring, group managing director at Ringley and creator of automated lettings platform, PlanetRent, comments: "A rent freeze is just another type of rent control and will have exactly the same effect: reduced investment into the rental marketing, reducing the availability and quality of rental housing and in turn pushing up rents. "While the government was right to bring in initial protections for tenants at the start of the pandemic, landlords should not be expected to subsidise renters indefinitely. Already there is evidence of rent arrears mounting up and for many landlords, their rental property is their pension. "If the government was serious about avoiding carnage in the private rented sector it would consider extending the furlough scheme and increasing benefit payments."
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