Housing minister bats off calls for rent increase ban in England

Christopher Pincher has comprehensively dismissed calls from activists, the Mayor of London, lobbyists and fellow MPs to consider a rent increase ban or cap.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher has confirmed that the government will not be introducing legislation to ban or cap rent increases during the Coronavirus crisis.

The comments were made within a written parliamentary statement from Labour MP Barry Sheerman, who asked if the Ministry of Housing was assessing whether a rent cap was necessary during the pandemic.

Sheerman’s question is believed to have been prompted both by Sadiq Khan’s call for a rent cap in the capital, and the looming introduction of rent caps in Scotland.

Pincher also said that the government believes its measures to protect tenants within the private rented sector are adequate including its move last month to delay all new eviction proceedings until June.

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He also said the decision by the Master of the Rolls to suspend all ongoing housing possession cases for 90 days from 27 March also offered tenants additional protection.

“All tenants remain liable for their rent and those who can afford to should continue to pay it,” he said. “At the end of this period, if arrears have built up, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account the tenants’ individual circumstances.”

Pincher also claimed that the government’s measures to boost the welfare safety-net with a £7 billion funding increase to Universal Credit, income tax and VAT deferrals would help tenants pay their rent.

“And we’ve increased Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates so that they are set at the 30th percentile of market rents in each area,” he said.

“These significant financial measures will help to support tenants to continue to pay their living costs, including rental payments.”

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