One of the most high profile members of the Welsh Parliament has hit back at calls from the controlling Labour and Plaid Cymru administration for rent controls throughout Wales.
Janet Finch-Saunders - the Shadow Minister for Climate Change, a portfolio which includes housing - is criticising a deal made over the winter between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru which includes “immediate and radical action” to tackle housing issues.
Finch-Saunders says: “We need a realistic and supportive approach towards the private rental market. Welsh Labour policy threatens a state-sanctioned rent increase which could make the Welsh rental market unbearable for thousands of families across Wales.
“Rent controls have been proven time and time again to not only be ineffective at combatting the issue of affordability, but to have actually been detrimental to the housing market.
“On top of the mountain of existing legislation, further excessive state intervention could lead to landlords being forced out of the sector, resulting in a decrease in the supply of rental homes for those who cannot or are not looking to buy.
“Case studies from around the world demonstrate the damaging effects that the introduction of rent controls can have. Look at San Francisco where the housing supply fell by 15 per cent, while in Berlin rent shot up by almost 10 per cent between 2015 and 2017 following the introduction of rent controls.”
A prominent Labour member of the Welsh Parliament, Carolyn Thomas, has recently written of her support for rent controls.
In The National newspaper she’s written: “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.
“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.”