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Mayor Sadiq Khan to look at imposing rent controls in London

Source: The Guardian

The mayor of London has hinted that he is considering introducing rent controls across the capital in a radical overhaul of private rental laws.

Sadiq Khan told an MP that London needed to adopt a “strategic approach to rent stabilisation and control”, since the arguments in favour of capping rent inflation are becoming “overwhelming”.

Although national legislation governs private sector renters’ rights, tenancies and rents themselves, it is understood that Khan will begin to advocate for fundamental change in order to tackle overinflated rents, in a move which could lead to councils assuming greater powers.

“I agree with you that London needs a strategic approach to rent stabilisation and control,” he wrote in a letter to Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, seen by the Guardian.

“I have long advocated such reforms; in 2013, I suggested reforms could give renters the right to longer-term tenancies and predictable rents. The housing crisis is now having such an effect on a generation of Londoners that the arguments in favour of rent stabilisation and control are becoming overwhelming.”

The proposed changes include ending section 21 “no fault” evictions, which the housing campaign group Generation Rent said have been the leading cause of statutory homelessness since 2012. “This law allows evictions with no reason needed, and this is one more reason why we should scrap it,” the group said.

Assured shorthold tenancies, the standard rental agreement for almost all renters in England, should be replaced with open-ended tenancies – providing greater security of tenure to renters, according to the draft blueprint. Currently, landlords are able to evict tenants immediately after the initial fixed term, usually six months, without a legal reason.

Rent controls have been entirely dismantled in the UK, despite existing in some form for most of the 20th century in a process of deregulation that has helped drive sustained rent increases far above inflation.

Further measures to reverse this trend will be laid out in Khan’s “London Model”, which is slated to be published in spring 2019.

In 2013, Khan suggested new measures could help renters assume the right to longer-term tenancies, which would make rents more predictable.

In his manifesto for the 2016 London mayoral election, Khan recognised that the biggest issue he faced was the capital’s housing crisis. “I will fight for the mayor and London councils to have a greater say in strengthening renters’ rights over tenancy lengths, rent rises, and the quality of accommodation,” he said.

Scotland has recently taken steps to introduce new housing regulations, while rent controls across some of Europe’s capital cities have been credited with preventing sudden price rises.