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We want ‘sensible’ rent controls says Labour Party think thank

A Labour think tank considered on the right wing of the party says it wants rent controls that make a difference for tenants, but that aren’t so tough on landlords that they feel forced to sell-up.

The Fabian Society, in a publication created jointly with campaigning charity Shelter, claims there is strong support for rent controls amongst tenants. Such controls would help them combat “insecurity, powerlessness and high rents” says the society.

It has based this and other claims on the results of “six in-depth focus groups held across England.”


The report has been released just ahead of the Labour Party conference, starting next weekend, which is also expected to debate the controversial idea by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell that some private rental tenants should have the right to buy their homes - even if the landlords do not want to sell them.

The new report says the tenants advocating rent controls are not motivated purely by a desire to cut their rent. “They prioritise having fair and transparent rules for the level of rent; a chance for greater security in their home; and a system that is fair for both tenants and landlords” according to the Fabians.

Tenants ”want a rent control policy that goes far enough to make a noticeable difference, but are concerned by unintended consequences such as any proposals causing landlords to sell up.”

And the society urges politicians to think through the implementation of such controls “to mitigate any adverse impacts on private renters themselves.”

According to Fabian Society deputy general secretary Olivia Bailey: “Well designed rent controls can tackle rising costs and falling standards in the private rented sector. But politicians must base their plans on the views of renters themselves.

“Tenants want rent controls to enhance their security and make the system fairer. They want help with soaring costs but are worried about slashing rents which could risk landlords selling up.

“A policy that offers fairness, security and stable rents will command support at the ballot box and give millions of people the comfort and security of an affordable, decent home.”

A Shelter spokesman, campaigns director Greg Beales, claims there are now 11m private tenants in the country and says many of them are "feeling the full force of the housing crisis and there’s no doubt they need a fairer deal.”

He insists that rent controls are used around the world to give tenants predictable and stable rents.

Beales says rent controls alone are insufficient to alleviate the housing problem and concludes: “Any scheme must sit alongside a clear government commitment to build the three million social homes this country needs, to solve the housing emergency once and for all.”

Poll: Is there such a thing as a 'sensible' rent control?


  • James B

    Maybe this part of the Labour party should have a word with Corbyn because if he gets through his policy for tenants right to buy there won’t be any properties left

  • Simon Shinerock

    This is right up there with their desire for non-combustible petrol, calorie free cheese and kinder weapons of mass destruction

  • icon
    • 17 September 2019 09:39 AM

    There can be no such thing as sensible across the board rent controls.
    Such controls simply aren't capable of coping with individual LL business dynamics.
    Let us return to 2015 prior to dopey Osborne announcing the S24 policy.
    Up til then things had been ticking along OK in the PRS.
    Rents were set at reasonable market rates.
    Since 2015 there have been a flurry of bonkers anti-LL policies that has led to LL having to increase rents substantially or selling up.
    Rent controls would not take account of these business dynamics.
    Every LL will be affected different ways and would need to manage their individual property circumstances.
    I'm afraid rents are as they are due to market forces.
    It would be politically unacceptable but if there was a real desire to lower rents there would be immediate closure of the borders.
    Repatriation of the 2 million illegal immigrants.
    Removal of EU migrants who haven't been in the UK for at least 5 years.
    Removing the 400000 EU migrants currently occupying social housing to be replaced by sole British Nationals.
    An immediate buyback at market prices of about 2 million private properties for social housing use along with building 1 million social homes over the next 5 years.
    Plus abolishing all the recent bonkers policies introduced since 2015.
    NONE of this will EVER happen.
    It would if I was running things!
    Indeed the cost burdens on LL are likely to further increase as even more bonkers policies are introduced like abolishing S21.
    There is simply no way that rent controls could be adjusted to cope with all the detrimental effects on LL which would be slightly different for every LL.
    Rent controls if introduced will simply speed up the selling up process resulting in an ever declining PRS.
    That would mean even more homeless.
    We are talking millions NOT thousands!!
    It would also result in a massive reduction in tax receipts as inevitably LL will evade rent controls by managing properties themselves which would massively hit LA businesses.
    A LA can hardly go around collecting brown envelopes of cash for the real rents on behalf of LL clients!
    Only LL will be able to do this.
    Very few LL could survive on controlled rents.
    The last time this was tried most of the LL sold up.
    This resulted in the rise of Rachman.
    We really do not wish to return to those days!!


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