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Conservatives should back selective rent controls, urges think-tank

The Conservatives should introduce rent controls to kick-start a seaside town renaissance, suggests an organisation set up originally by the David Cameron Coalition government.

The Housing & Finance Institute, set up in spring 2015 just ahead of that year’s General Election, says a new ‘Fair Value Rents regime’ would repair damaged housing markets in coastal communities.

In a new report it calls for a three-pronged housing solution to reverse decades of decline in Britain’s seaside towns – and to tackle what it calls a “toxic trio of low home ownership, poor quality rental properties and a lack of job opportunities”.

Alongside new time limited and localised rent controls in the poorest coastal communities, the paper calls for a new ‘one-stop shop’ to make it easier for councils to take action against what it calls “rogue landlords” and drive up housing standards.

It also wants greater financial and skills support from central government for deprivation hotspots that have become what it calls ‘house building not-spots’ – places where housebuilders, developers and financiers don’t want to build and invest.

“A new fair rents regime would significantly speed up the renewal of the most deprived areas, drive a fairer deal for tenants and taxpayers – and kick-start much needed regeneration” insists Natalie Elphicke, the institute’s chief executive.

The report says nine out of 10 of the most deprived smaller areas are by the sea. Rented housing in coastally deprived areas within Blackpool, Margate, Hastings and Jaywick sometimes exceeds 80 per cent of the entire housing market – and it is often expensive and of extremely poor quality, the institute claims.

In those areas the institute recommends a time-limited local application of ‘fair value rents’ assessed locally and based on the location and quality of the property within existing local housing rent benefit limits. 

  • Mark Hempshell

    Take a look at someone like Blackpool and you will probably see that rents are already below what would be considered a fair rent in other more prosperous places. The problem in seaside towns is a bit deeper than that.

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