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Labour split as MP defies party policy and calls for rent controls

A Labour MP is calling for rent controls to be introduced, with powers for councils to tweak them as they see fit.

This is despite her party this week giving a clear message that it did not support such controls. 

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, has told local media in the city that the average rent in York climbed 13.2% in the year to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.


Maskell has sponsored a motion to the House of Commons regarding the cost of private rent in England and rent controls.

She says: “English councils spent £1.7 billion on temporary accommodation last year, in part due to the high number of Section 21 … evictions issued. We need to build more council and social housing and need to recognise that the often-used phrase ‘affordable housing’ is anything but.

“It is worth noting that the cost of private rented accommodation in England is higher and renters' rights are weaker than in other countries that have rent controls and more secure tenancies.

"A national system of rent controls should have local flexibility for councils to control rents in high rent areas like York.

"Tenancies need to be open-ended, with improved minimum standards, support should be given to renters’ unions to allow legal protection and support to be given to all residents facing hostile landlords seeking to repossess property."

In response to Maskell’s call the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has told the York Herald & Gazette: “Our landmark Renters Reform Bill is progressing through Parliament and will give tenants more security in their homes.

"We recognise the cost-of-living pressures tenants are facing, which is why we are providing a £108 billion cost of living support package over 2022-2025 – worth an average £3,800 per household."

Labour has disowned any idea of rent controls. In a statement in The Guardian this week it says: “While we do believe action needs to be taken to protect renters and rebalance power, rent controls are not Labour party policy as we remain mindful of the risk they could pose to the availability of rental properties and the harmful impacts any reduction in supply would have on renters.”

The party also distanced itself from the launch of a report - written by Labour council chief Stephen Cowan - which calls for rent caps. The report was commissioned by the then shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy, before being moved from the post by party leader Sir Kier Starmer.


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