Carolyn Thomas, a member of the Welsh Parliament - known as the Sennedd - has written in The National newspaper: “I have long supported rent controls and I will back any move which seeks to address the poverty caused by unreasonable rent increases.
“The UK housing market is out of control – houses are viewed as financial investments and assets, instead of a home which puts a roof over somebody’s head. The rapid and unsustainable growth of a class of buy to let landlords since the 1980s has undone much of the progress in the conditions of tenants, as well as driving an explosion in house prices.”
She continues: “People who, 40 years ago, would have either bought a home or lived in a secure and affordable council house, are forced into a private sector that works for profiteers, not ordinary people.
“In turn, tenants are increasingly forced into poverty because of the proportion of their income that goes on soaring rents, sometimes for houses that are barely fit for human habitation.”
Meanwhile the mayor of Labour-controlled Bristol council is teaming up with local activists to look at how to introduce rent controls in the city.
At a so-called ‘summit’ on March 2, Mayor Marvin Rees will set out his goals to have more powers over landlords.
He says: “The national housing crisis poses big challenges for our city and tackling it remains one of the council’s top priorities.
“As well as accelerating the building of affordable housing across Bristol, we are currently strengthening our powers to tackle rogue landlords, and we have invested £42m in improving the energy efficiency of our council homes.
“I made a manifesto commitment to campaign for the power to introduce rent controls to make Bristol an affordable living city, and we are calling on government to give us the power to regulate rents.
“Piloting rent control in Bristol will allow us to take a step towards tackling our local renting crisis and will help us develop learnings and that can inform wider positive change for the rest of the city.”
A statement from the council claims that the summit aims to start a conversation with the community about what rent control for Bristol could look like, reviewing examples of how it has proven to be effective in other countries.
Councillor Tom Renhard, the authority’s housing chief, adds: “Our city is facing a rent crisis. We have ever-increasing rents, no-fault evictions still in effect and demand exceeding supply. There are some homes that are not even fit for habitation in a private rented sector where tenants can struggle to enforce the few rights they have.
“Bristol rents are out of control and the renting system is not fair, stable or safe. Unaffordable private rents are deepening inequality, as people on lower incomes are at growing risk of homelessness and many are being forced out of the city.
“It’s time for a reset in the relationship and for the national government to give us the powers we need locally to properly regulate privately rented housing. We are asking renters across the city to join us to share their experiences, shape the discussion on enforcement and hear about different models of what a living rent for Bristol could look like if we had the power to introduce rent controls.”
And in London - where Labour mayor Sadiq Khan has long been an advocate of rent controls - Khan has called for stronger punishment for rogue landlords.
In the Big Issue magazine he is quoted as saying: “I want to see tougher penalties for rogue operators and this action can only come from the government. Poor housing conditions and exploitative rents have an awful impact on both the physical and mental health of tenants and these actions need to have consequences.”