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PM restates government opposition to rent controls

Prime minister Theresa May has repeated that the current government will not introduce rent controls in the private sector.

The issue of private renting was a major debating point at yesterday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons.

May was repeatedly challenged by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to outline policies to protect private sector tenants including support for three year tenancies, making eviction more difficult, and a pledge for more financial and practical help for the homeless. 

He said it was time for the government to “get out of the pockets of rogue landlords”.

May insisted that the recent Budget and the Housing White Paper delivered early this year both pledged to move towards longer tenancies - although the PM did not specify three years as a target duration.

The PM also mentioned Corbyn’s pledge, delivered at the Labour Party conference this autumn, that there should be rent controls for private tenants.

May insisted that rent controls do not work and never did work, and she cited homeless charity Shelter as one of the organisations that opposed rent controls because they were likely to lead to reduced rental supply as landlords would leave the sector.

Meanwhile a trade body has criticised Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of being wrong about a case study he cited during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Labour leader referenced a woman who had lived in her private rented home for 10 years who faced having to leave her property. He used it to call for three year tenancies and warned that tenants were living in fear of eviction.

However, the Residential Landlords’ Association says official statistics show that private sector tenants have lived in their homes for an average of over four years.

And it says figures from the Ministry of Justice also show that in the most recent period for which data is available, 62 per cent of all claims to repossess a property by landlords were in the social rented sector, compared to 16 per cent in the private rented sector.

Further figures show that just a tenth of all tenancies in the private rented sector are ended by a landlord or letting agent.

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