The housing charity Shelter - which in recent years has been aggressively critical of letting agencies and landlords in the private rental sector - has shocked many onlookers by being critical of Labour’s policy of rent controls.
Jeremy Corbyn announced controls - at least for city areas - in his closing speech at this week’s Labour party conference.
But Shelter has warned that this could indirectly “end up harming” the very tenants which Corbyn and his colleagues seek to protect.
Shelter chief executive officer, Polly Neale, says: “Shelter supports controls that lengthen tenancies and protect families from unfair rent rises, but not old fashioned rent-setting which we think could end up harming the very people on low incomes they’re meant to help, if and when landlords sell their properties.”
The comment received sharp criticism from one Corbyn supporter, the former Channel 4 journalist Paul Mason - now a cheerleader for the Labour party - who went to Twitter to say: “Shelter’s attack on Labour’s rent cap proposal is unfortunate. I thought the organisation’s aim was to protect tenants and homeless.”
He continued: “Their repeated opposition to rent caps does not seem based on evidence but on neoliberal assumptions about market behaviour.”
Mason’s tweets appear now to have been deleted.
Meanwhile the rental sector professionals continue in their criticism of the Labour proposal. The National Landlords’ Association has branded it “economically illiterate” and says government intervention through rent controls would be counter-productive to encouraging supply at a time when it is so badly needed.
“Rent control, or the artificial suppression of rents, may also serve as a barrier to further investment in the stock of private rented properties if the rent generated is too low to allow the landlord to operate a proper maintenance regime without making a financial loss” it adds.