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Rent controls and similar policies which are thought to work well in other countries cannot be easily replicated in the UK’s private rented sector, according to findings from a new interim report by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The interim report, published on the day that Labour leadership hopefuls gather for a live televised hustings, was commissioned by the National Landlords Association (NLA) in order better to understand the interventionist policy proposals that were put forward during the General Election.
The report looks at evidence from the UK as well as from other countries where stronger regulatory policies are already in place, including Germany, Ireland, San Francisco, New York and the Netherlands. Particularly, the interim report suggests that:
Carolyn Uphill, Chairman of the NLA, said:
“The report is required reading for Labour leadership and London Mayor hopefuls, who seem to be ignoring both academic evidence and the overwhelming rejection of similar policies by the electorate last month.
“Private rented sectors in many countries, regulated or not, are facing major problems in high demand areas. Market fundamentals cannot just be regulated away”.
Kath Scanlon of LSE London commented:
“In light of the various proposals put forward before the General Election, we were asked to explore evidence from other countries about how rent controls and other regulatory policies affect the private rented sector.
“We found clear evidence that inflexible controls reduce supply, but the strongest message was that what may work in one country cannot simply be transferred to a different market and institutional environment”.
During the election there were also calls to abolish business tax relief for buy-to-let, alongside the introduction of rent controls. However, the LSE report found that where rent controls are already in place the negative impacts are usually offset by a more favourable tax treatment of landlords – an area which the UK falls behind in comparison with other countries.
Mrs Uphill continued:
“The taxation of buy-to-let is a touchy subject for some, even though landlords in the UK receive no special treatment compared to other businesses.
“This report reinforces why successive governments have chosen to treat landlords as businesses. Doing so encourages best practice and, above all, helps to ease the housing crisis.”
LSE’s interim report can be downloaded here.
LSE’s final report, due to be published later this year, will examine London in more detail to see specifically how renters in the Capital would be affected by various proposals for change.
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