We want ‘sensible’ rent controls says Labour Party think thank

A Labour think tank considered on the right wing of the party says it wants rent controls that make a difference for tenants, but that aren’t so tough on landlords that they feel forced to sell-up.

The Fabian Society, in a publication created jointly with campaigning charity Shelter, claims there is strong support for rent controls amongst tenants. Such controls would help them combat “insecurity, powerlessness and high rents” says the society.

It has based this and other claims on the results of “six in-depth focus groups held across England.”

The report has been released just ahead of the Labour Party conference, starting next weekend, which is also expected to debate the controversial idea by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell that some private rental tenants should have the right to buy their homes – even if the landlords do not want to sell them.

The new report says the tenants advocating rent controls are not motivated purely by a desire to cut their rent. “They prioritise having fair and transparent rules for the level of rent; a chance for greater security in their home; and a system that is fair for both tenants and landlords” according to the Fabians.

Tenants ”want a rent control policy that goes far enough to make a noticeable difference, but are concerned by unintended consequences such as any proposals causing landlords to sell up.”

And the society urges politicians to think through the implementation of such controls “to mitigate any adverse impacts on private renters themselves.”

According to Fabian Society deputy general secretary Olivia Bailey: “Well designed rent controls can tackle rising costs and falling standards in the private rented sector. But politicians must base their plans on the views of renters themselves.

“Tenants want rent controls to enhance their security and make the system fairer. They want help with soaring costs but are worried about slashing rents which could risk landlords selling up.

“A policy that offers fairness, security and stable rents will command support at the ballot box and give millions of people the comfort and security of an affordable, decent home.”

A Shelter spokesman, campaigns director Greg Beales, claims there are now 11m private tenants in the country and says many of them are “feeling the full force of the housing crisis and there’s no doubt they need a fairer deal.”

He insists that rent controls are used around the world to give tenants predictable and stable rents.

Beales says rent controls alone are insufficient to alleviate the housing problem and concludes: “Any scheme must sit alongside a clear government commitment to build the three million social homes this country needs, to solve the housing emergency once and for all.”

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