The mayor of London’s calls for the government to hand him rent-capping powers in the capital have been dismissed as “deluded” by the lettings sector.
In a report titled Reforming Private Renting: The Mayor of London’s Blueprint, Sadiq Khan argued the need of rent control in the capital was “overwhelming” and that the high cost of renting meant tenants in London were in need of help until more homes were built to ensure long-term affordability.
But critics claimed Khan’s proposals would have a negative long-term impact on the quality of housing, while the government said rent controls could drive away responsible landlords and “ultimately push rents up”.
Average monthly private rents in London have increased by 35% from £1,095 in 2011 to £1,473 in 2018, according to data from the Valuation Office Agency.
The latest English Housing Survey found private renters in the city spent 42% of their household income on rent, compared with 30% by those in other parts of England.
The Labour mayor said: “If our proposals were implemented, we could fundamentally rebalance London’s private rented sector – making it fit for purpose through a new approach that is long overdue.”
But Jonathan Cribb, senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said rent controls could have a negative impact on the quality of rented housing as landlords look for ways to save money, “and a key way to do that is to not maintain the property,” he said.
Mr Khan’s blueprint recommends the creation of a London Private Rent Commission which would “implement an effective system of rent control” and “encourage investment in new and existing rental housing supply”.
But Chris Norris, director of policy and practice at the National Landlords Association, said incentivising investment and “removing landlords’ control over their own businesses” was a “sure-fire way to scare away new and existing investors”.
“Capping and reducing rents in the way suggested in this manifesto would destroy any prospect landlords have of making a return on investment and lead to a reduction in private rental homes available to the Londoners who need them,” Mr Norris said.
“Although there are some points in this report which the NLA would happily endorse, the mayor’s strategy is at best contradictory and at worst deluded.”