Senior Labour figures have come out with sharply opposing views on whether the party backs rent controls.
Shabana Mahmood, a senior MP close to party leader Sir Kier Starmer and also Labour’s campaigns manager, appeared to dismiss rent controls on a BBC interview with Laura Keunnsberg. Mahmood described a rent freeze as a mere tweak which “wouldn’t get to the heart of the problem” which she said was a structural shortage of housing.
She reiterated Labour’s official policy which was to devise a system of selling new homes which gave local first time buyers ‘first dibs’ over other potential purchasers.
When further invited by Keunnsberg to say what immediate help Labour would give to tenants unable to afford higher rents, Mahmood did not mention rent controls and instead said her party would tackle the cost of living crisis and “prioritise changes to the national planning framework to tackle the [housing] problem at source.”
However, Labour’s shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy and Labour big city mayors including Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham have repeatedly spoken in favour of rent controls.
As recently as April 30, just last week, Khan tweeted (without sourcing his figures) that: “It’s totally unsustainable that the average private rent in London has hit £2,500 per month. The government needs to give me the power to freeze rents.”
Labour’s Scottish leader - Anas Sarwar - has also spoken enthusiastically in favour of rent controls.