Labour’s candidate for London Mayor wants to control private rents - and he wants the capital to be a template for other big UK cities.
Sadiq Khan has told the Independent newspaper that the introduction of rent controls in London could be replicated in other cities where housing is unaffordable.
The London Mayoralty does not include powers to control rents but at the last poll for the post - in 2016 - Khan called for increased authority over the private rental sector.
For this election - taking place today - he’s done the same, and tells the paper: “I’m in favour of the government giving me the powers to bring in rent controls. I think we’ve got to recognise that London is different to the rest of the country in terms of housing need.
“The average cost of a one-bedroom home in London is more than the average cost of a three-bedroom home in the rest of England.”
Figures have shown rents have actually fallen in London over the past 15 months but Khan is unrepentant.
“Rents may have fallen slightly in London during the pandemic because some Londoners have temporarily left the city […] but this is only a temporary blip. My worry is that in a few months’ time hopefully we will have an [economic] recovery but we will be in the situation we had before.”
Lettings trade bodies have taken issue with Khan’s bid for power over rents.
An analysis by the National Residential Landlords Association shows that private rents have fallen every year in real terms throughout Khan’s period of office and are now nearly 10 per cent lower than five years ago when compared to the Retail Price Index.
The NRLA says figures from the Office for National Statistics show that rents in the capital have fallen by 9.6 per cent between April 2016 (the month before Khan first came to office) and February 2021.
Even compared to the Consumer Price Index - including housing costs, which the government has said it plans to start using - rents fell by 5.1 per cent over the same period.
The NRLA is warning that any move to control rent rises by linking them to inflation would leave tenants worse off.
You can see the Khan interview in the Independent here.