London’s Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has returned to his campaign to win powers which would allow him to impose rent controls.
Khan has been an advocate of controls for some time, but currently has no authority to introduce them in the capital.
Now Khan has taken up the case of rent rises in the London Borough of Brent; data from City Hall, where the Mayor is based, shows that the average rent in Brent has increased from £1,200 a month in 2012 to £1,500 a month now.
He is quoted in local London media as saying: "It is shocking that renters in Brent are now paying £3,600 more every year than they did just seven years ago - meaning more and more of their earnings go on rent, and making it harder for them to put down roots.
"Unlike other mayors around the world, I have no powers over the private rented sector. Despite this, we have worked closely with councils over the last three years to 'name and shame' rogue landlords, and I have campaigned successfully with renters to get the government to ban letting agents fees for tenants and scrap Section 21."
However, industry figures have stridently opposed Khan’s plans.
The National Landlords Association, which conducted a survey amongst 1,700 of its landlord members, says 89 per cent of them are likely to vote against any party that proposed rent controls and 85 per cent would vote against parties proposing to remove section 21.
Richard Lambert, chief executive of the NLA, says: “The Mayor’s strategy is at best contradictory and at worst deluded. Either he hasn’t researched how landlords’ businesses work, or he didn’t understand what he found. Or perhaps he did, and he just doesn’t care."
And David Cox, the Association of Residential Letting Agents’ chief executive, says such controls could make London’s challenging rental market worse.
He says many landlords are quitting because of government tax changes, and adds: “If this trend continues, coupled with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s, recent pledge to introduce rent controls, it will only serve to make the situation worse for London’s renters as more landlords are forced to sell up. As the supply of rental accommodation falls further, tenants will face more competition for properties, which will push up rents on good-quality, well-managed properties, and leave the vulnerable and low-income people which rent controls are designed to help, in the hands of rogue and criminal operators.”