April 8

Labour Activists Advocate for Rent Control


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Activists are increasingly exerting pressure on London Mayor Sadiq Khan, urging him to deviate from the official Labour stance on rent control. They argue that failure to do so would disappoint the public, especially amidst growing concerns about housing affordability in the capital. Despite reservations from party leaders such as Sir Keir Starmer and shadow housing secretary Angela Rayner, who oppose rent controls due to concerns about potential impacts on the rental market, activists maintain that such measures are necessary to mitigate escalating rents and address housing shortages.

While Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner emphasize the potential drawbacks of rent controls, including reduced landlord participation and increased rents due to limited property availability, activists contend that these measures are essential to safeguard tenants’ rights and ensure affordable housing for all. They assert that the current housing market dynamics necessitate bold action, including the implementation of rent controls, to alleviate the financial burden on renters and address the widening gap between income and housing costs in London.

In less than a month, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, seeking re-election, reiterates his campaign promise to advocate for rent control authority if victorious on May 2. Despite persistent calls for such powers, Khan has been consistently overlooked by the government. However, he explores an alternative route to implement limited rent controls by proposing the creation of “rent control homes.” These properties, funded publicly and subject to rent caps aligned with local key worker salaries, offer a potential avenue for addressing housing affordability concerns in London.

Khan’s proposal aims to mitigate the soaring rental costs that burden many Londoners, particularly essential workers struggling to afford housing in the city. By tethering rents to local key worker salaries, he seeks to establish a more equitable rental market, fostering greater affordability and accessibility for residents. While facing governmental resistance to broader rent control measures, Khan’s initiative underscores his commitment to addressing the pressing housing issues facing Londoners, offering a potential solution to alleviate rental burdens and enhance housing affordability in the capital.

Over the weekend, London Mayor Sadiq Khan took to social media to articulate his vision for renters if re-elected, highlighting his commitment to bolstering support for this demographic. His proposed initiatives include the construction of a minimum of 6,000 rent-controlled homes, a heightened focus on combatting rogue landlords, and the introduction of far-reaching reforms aimed at empowering renters to assert their rights. Khan’s message underscored a clear departure from the perceived pro-landlord stance of the Conservative Party, positioning himself as a champion for renters’ interests in the political arena.

Despite Khan’s proposed measures, activists remain skeptical about the efficacy of his so-called “New Deal for Renters” in effectively addressing London’s deep-rooted housing crisis. While acknowledging the significance of Khan’s pledges, activists argue that piecemeal interventions, such as the construction of rent-controlled homes, may not suffice to tackle the systemic challenges driving housing unaffordability in the capital. Instead, they advocate for a comprehensive approach that includes robust rent control mechanisms as part of broader housing policy reforms.

Activists emphasize the urgent need for Khan to incorporate comprehensive rent controls into his proposed reforms to make a substantial impact on London’s housing landscape. They argue that without stringent rent controls, Khan’s initiatives may fall short of providing meaningful relief to renters grappling with soaring housing costs and precarious living conditions. By amplifying their calls for comprehensive rent controls, activists aim to ensure that any future housing policy measures effectively address the multifaceted challenges faced by renters in London’s competitive housing market.

The London Renters Union (LRU) issued a statement urging Mayor Sadiq Khan to maintain pressure for city-wide rent controls and to advocate for the Labour Party’s commitment to devolve power over rents. The LRU contends that Labour leader Keir Starmer has avoided endorsing rent controls, instead focusing solely on devolving powers for landlord licensing.

Highlighting the significant burden of housing costs on lower-income Londoners, the LRU points out that nearly half of their wages are consumed by housing expenses. Additionally, the union expresses concern over record levels of rough sleeping in the capital and the financial strain faced by London councils due to increased demand for homelessness services.

In a critique of landlords, the LRU notes that many mortgage-free landlords continue to raise rents, while half of buy-to-let landlords prioritize expanding their property portfolios. Citing polling data indicating strong public support for rent controls among Londoners, the union advocates for policies similar to those implemented in ten European countries. 

Moreover, the LRU calls for the establishment of a Rent Control Commission tasked with devising a comprehensive plan for rent control in the capital. Additionally, they advocate for increased investment in council housing as part of a broader strategy to address London’s housing affordability crisis.

A spokesperson for the activists says: “Sadiq Khan’s New Deal will fall flat if he does not continue to push for the power to cap rents in London. London renters are trapped in a cycle of instability and many will feel let down if Khan stops campaigning for city-wide rent controls under a Labour government.

“6,000 new rent controlled properties will not bring security to the capital’s three million private renters who are living in fear that they will be forced out of their homes by an unaffordable rent increase.

“A third term offers Khan a once-in-a-generation opportunity to push a likely new Labour government and bring much-needed rent control to the capital.”


Labour Activists Advocate for Rent Control, Rent Control UK, Sadiq Khan News

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