Minister Says No to Rent Controls and Other News

Minister Says No To Rent Controls

Ministers are fighting calls to impose rent controls from housing charities backed by Labour. The latest skirmish was between Shadow Culture Secretary Rachael Maskell, who asked if the government would assess the merits of imposing rent controls in York and other areas where rents are expensive. 

The written question was answered by Eddie Hughes, the under-secretary for levelling up, housing and communities. He unequivocally told Maskell that the government has no intention of introducing rent controls.

Hughes said: “The government does not support the introduction of rent controls. Historical evidence suggests that rent controls would discourage investment in the sector and would lead to declining property standards as a result, which would not help landlords or tenants. “Recent international examples also suggest that rent controls can have an inadvertent negative impact on the supply of housing and may encourage more illegal subletting.

Tribunal can rule rent is unfair

“In the Queen’s Speech, we committed to introducing a Renters Reform Bill in this Parliamentary session. Through this, we will abolish ‘no fault’ evictions by removing Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, providing security for tenants in the private rented sector and empowering them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of retaliatory eviction. 

“It is important to note that currently, if tenants with periodic tenancies believe the level of rent increase is unfair, they can already refer the matter to the First-tier Tribunal for independent adjudication. The Tribunal will consider whether the rent increase is in line with market rent.”

One of Labour’s cheerleaders trying to whip up support for rent controls is London mayor Saddiq Khan. He recently wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to devolve powers to set rents in London.

“If we do not act urgently to protect renters, spiralling rents could soon translate into a devastating homelessness crisis,” said Khan.

Buy to let rents rise fast

According to several organisations monitoring how much tenants pay for their buy-to-let homes, rents in the capital are spiralling. Tenant referencing firm Homelet collects rent-paid data when performing checks for landlords. 

The report for April 2022 shows the average UK rent is £1,091 a month - up 9.5 per cent year-on-year and 1.2 per cent from March. Rent growth in the year to April 2022 in London was 14.2 per cent, to an average of £1,804 a month. However, official government rent data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows rents rose 2.7 per cent year-on-year to the end of April.

Landlords in Wales get more time to work with new laws

Wales housing minister Julie James has given landlords extra time to move over to measures introduced by the Renting Homes Act. Following pleas from letting agents and landlords, she has postponed the new law from July 15 until December 1, 2022. The act brings in a new way of working for landlords and includes giving six-month notice for a no-fault eviction, 12-month security for new renters and a ban on retaliatory evictions.

“I want to do all I can to ensure landlords have adequate time to make the necessary preparations to comply with the requirements of the Act,” said James. “I recognise that preparing new occupation contracts and ensuring that properties meet the fitness standards set out in the legislation are major undertakings, particularly for those landlords responsible for a large number of properties and tenants.”

Read the minister's complete statement.

The Welsh Government also overhauls landlords' forms with the new Renting Homes Act from December 1, 2022. 

Find the suite of forms for download.

Bank offers the lowdown on renting bungalows

According to a bank study, bungalows could become the hot property of the future. The single-storey homes will make up 10 per cent of private rental housing stock in 15 years, says specialist lender Paragon. 

A poll of 1,300 tenants revealed that 3 per cent live in a privately rented bungalow now, but 9 per cent expect to rent one over the next decade. 

The study also claims that one in four households will be headed by someone over 55 by 2035, reflecting how the population is ageing.

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