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Labour turning its back on rent controls once and for all

It looks as if the Labour Party is turning its back on rent controls on England and Wales.

In the past year the running has been made in favour of rent controls by Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan and some other local mayors; and recently the Welsh Labour Party issued a consultation document asking for views on possible rent controls.

But statements this week by two prominent party spokespeople suggest that Labour, as it prepares for a General Election next year, is taking a more considered approach.


Speaking to a Chartered Institute of Housing conference yesterday the Shadow Housing Secretary, Lisa Nandy MP, said: “As the mortgage crisis deepens - for homeowners and renters alike - it is perhaps inevitable that the debate has turned again to short term fixes.

“And when housebuilding is falling off a cliff and buy-to-let landlords are leaving the market, rent controls that cut rents for some, will almost certainly leave others homeless.

"It might be politically easier to put a sticking plaster on our deep-seated problems, but if it is cowardice that got us here, it is never going to get us out."

And earlier this week the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, also raised concerns about proposals to freeze rents.

He said: “As to a rent freeze, it's a blunt instrument; it has many unintended consequences. We know in Scotland that it has led to a reduction in properties available for rent, because people who have bought properties on a buy-to-let basis themselves face mortgages that have now gone up significantly. 

“The Bank of England estimates that it will take a 20 per cent rise in private sector rents simply to cover the additional costs that buy-to-let landlords now incur. 

“Even the Scottish scheme is not a rent freeze for everybody; it is a rent freeze for some people, in some circumstances. In Wales, we believe there are other measures, and less blunt instruments, that allow us to respond to the people who are in … difficulties.”


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