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Landlords slam London Mayor’s call for ‘disaster’ two-year rent freeze

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has slammed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s call for a rent freeze in the capital.

Yesterday, ahead of the eviction ban being lifted from Monday, Khan called on the government to freeze rents in London to prevent evictions caused by Covid-19.

The NRLA says rent controls in the capital would be ‘a disaster for tenants’. Khan is requesting that new powers are introduced to prevent rent increases for two years.

“A rent freeze is only one part of a package of measures renters urgently need from government to ensure no one is forced out onto the streets as a result of this pandemic,” said the Mayor.

“The end of the furlough scheme means even more renters in the capital are now at risk of pay cuts or losing their job.”

“Yet at every stage of this pandemic, renters have been treated as an afterthought by the government, with protection measures only ever rushed out at the last minute,” the Labour Mayor added.

He drew comparisons to Berlin where rents have been frozen for five years, saying that London should be able to freeze rents for two years in ‘extraordinary times’.

In response, the NRLA has drawn attention to a 2010 report from the last Labour government, of which Khan was a member, which stated that historic rent controls had been a major factor in the ‘decay of much of the inner city housing stock’.

The association says the proposals for a rent freeze also ‘fly in the face’ of warnings from the Centre for Cities that rent controls would ‘close off London to new residents’.

“As history and experience elsewhere tells us, all [rent controls] would do is drive landlords out of the market exacerbating an already serious shortage of homes available,” says Chris Norris, NRLA policy director.

“Rather than driving a wedge between landlords and tenants the Mayor should focus on using the powers he already has to boost the supply of available housing, including for private rent.”

Norris says that the NRLA does, however, support the Mayor’s call for greater financial support for tenants struggling with rent arrears.

“In the end this would help them, and the majority of landlords who are individuals and not property tycoons, to sustain tenancies.”

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