0:06 AM, 4th July 2023, About 8 months ago 3
In a bid to combat its growing housing crisis, one UK city has launched an appeal for the government to hand over powers to impose rent controls.
The initiative is part of a broader strategy to help private tenants, who make up nearly one-third of the city’s residents.
The Bristol Living Rent Commission has published a report on the city’s housing situation.
In it, there are calls for Bristol City Council to be granted the power to limit rent rises to help tenants financially.
The report states that three out of every 10 renters pay at least half of their earnings to their landlord.
The call follows a demand from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who also want the same powers.
Councillor Tom Renhard, writing on the mayor’s blog, said: “Bristol is now the UK’s most expensive city to rent outside of London, with the average rent growing by 12.9% annually.
“Living in quality affordable accommodation is essential for people to live happy and healthy lives.
“Spiralling costs mean housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, pushing many further away from their place of work, family, and support networks.”
He added: “Ensuring an affordable and fair private rented sector is also essential to our city’s ecosystem, prosperity and productivity.”
Cllr Renhard also said the council has supported tenants with the introduction of landlord licensing schemes and clamping down on discrimination against benefit claimants.
Bristol’s Mayor Marvin Rees and Cllr Renhard have sent the report to the Housing Secretary Michael Gove but the possibility of getting permission to implement rent controls is slim.
The report also highlights that the average cost of a house in Bristol is nearly 12 times the average wage.
That makes homeownership an unattainable dream for many city dwellers, so they are forced to remain in the private rented sector, the report says.
Bristol is one of the UK’s fastest-growing cities with a population surge of 10% from 2011 to 2021 to reach 472,400.
In May last year, Bristol had 207,000 homes, with private rentals and social rent accounting for 29% and 18% respectively.
The city council has 27,000 properties and more than half the city’s homes are occupied by owners.
However, the proportion of private renters – over a quarter of households in the city, or more than 134,000 people – surpasses the national average of 20%.
And in his 2021 manifesto, the mayor vowed to transform Bristol into a ‘living rent city’ and advocated for the authority to introduce rent controls to ensure affordability.
To realise this vision, the One City Living Rent Commission was created last year and tasked with investigating potential strategies to make Bristol an affordable living rent city.