10:03 AM, 29th June 2023, About 8 months ago 6
Lisa Nandy, Labour Party’s shadow housing secretary, has rejected calls for rent controls – despite saying at the Labour Party conference last autumn that she supported them.
Now, she believes that rent controls are a ‘sticking plaster on our deep-seated problems’.
Ms Nandy also expressed concerns that such a policy could result in increased homelessness.
Several Labour mayors, including Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham, have also recently called for rent freezes.
The calls have been made after news that tenants saw rents rising by 5% in the 12 months to May, according to the Office for National Statistics.
At a housing conference in Manchester, Ms Nandy said “As the mortgage crisis deepens – for homeowners and renters alike – it is perhaps inevitable that the debate has turned again to short term fixes.
“And when housebuilding is falling off a cliff and buy-to-let landlords are leaving the market, rent controls that cut rents for some, will almost certainly leave others homeless.”
She added: “It might be politically easier to put a sticking plaster on our deep-seated problems, but if it is cowardice that got us here, it is never going to get us out.”
In response, Ben Beadle, the chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association said: “We agree with Labour that rent controls would do nothing to address the rental supply crisis that tenants across the country now face.
“What renters need is a proper plan to boost the supply of homes for private rent alongside all other tenures.”
He added: “Housing benefit rates should also be unfrozen without delay to support vulnerable tenants who are struggling to access the rental market.”
Ms Nandy’s U-turn on rent controls comes after declaring at last year’s Labour conference that rents should be frozen for the winter to help struggling tenants.
Campaign groups, including Shelter and Generation Rent, are pushing for a temporary halt on rent increases to alleviate the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
Earlier this year, Labour mayors from London, Manchester and Liverpool, showed their support for the cause by endorsing a rent freeze.
Despite his vocal support for rent control in London, Mr Khan is unable to execute it due to central government restrictions.
Meanwhile, landlords in Scotland saw the end of a six-month rent freeze in April – though private rent hikes are capped at 3%.
In Wales, the Welsh government is mulling over the possibility of setting limits on what private landlords can charge for rent, but no concrete plans have been announced yet.
In contrast, England’s government stands firmly against rent control, citing potential deterioration in housing quality and decreased investment as major concerns.
A spokesperson for left-wing campaign group Momentum told The Independent: “Millions of renters and mortgage holders are struggling to make ends meet. With the Tory Government shrugging its shoulders, Labour has both the opportunity and the obligation to set out the decisive action needed.
“It beggars belief, then, that Lisa Nandy has criticised calls for rent controls, which she herself backed just months ago, and mortgage relief.
“Once again, policies supported by unions, Labour members and progressive Labour Mayors like Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham are rejected by a UK Labour Leadership which seems allergic to good, popular policy.”
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