January 17

Rent Control Mayor: Naive Approach Criticized


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Rental rates in the UK have shown a notable downturn, experiencing a decrease of 2.9% in the last three months. This decline marks a retreat from the peak observed in 2023, signaling a shift in the rental landscape. Home, a trusted platform for monthly market snapshots, highlights this trend, emphasizing the dynamic nature of the rental market.

These recent falls have contributed to a moderation in the annualized change, settling at 5.0%. The fluctuation in rental prices underscores the ongoing adjustments in the real estate sector, prompting both tenants and landlords to stay vigilant and adapt to evolving market conditions.

The North West continues to lead in rental growth, displaying a robust increase of 16.9% year-on-year. This positive trend reflects the region’s resilience in the rental market. On the other hand, Greater London faces challenges, emerging as the worst-performing region with a 2.1% decline year-on-year, primarily due to an oversupply of available rental properties, creating a more competitive landscape for landlords.

Despite the overarching downturn, specific areas within the capital, notably Barking and Dagenham, along with Hillingdon, defy the trend with notable annual rises of 22.2% and 13.6%, respectively. These outliers showcase localized resilience and demand. However, it’s noteworthy that the broader trend signals a growing negativity in growth, particularly evident in the more affluent central boroughs of London, where rents are experiencing a decline. This nuanced analysis highlights the diverse and dynamic nature of the rental market across different regions and boroughs.

In the current market landscape, a noteworthy shift is observed as 12 prime boroughs in London are now witnessing year-on-year declines in asking rents, marking an increase from the 10 boroughs reported last month. Among these, Kensington and Chelsea emerge as the worst performer, experiencing a substantial year-on-year fall of 15.5%.

The overarching concern in London’s rental sector revolves around the growing oversupply of rental properties. This trend has been evolving for the better part of a year, with a significant uptick in the last month alone. Comparing it to December 2022, there has been a striking surge, with a notable increase of 37.9% in the number of properties available for rent. The implications of this persistent trend are expected to manifest in a further downward trajectory for rental prices, as predicted by the Home website, reflecting the evolving dynamics of the London rental market.

The Home website scrutinizes London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s persistent requests for government authority to enforce rent controls in the private sector. According to Home, the market is experiencing a natural correction after significant disruptions caused by COVID and the subsequent reversal of the exodus, resulting in a substantial impact on rents. Currently, the market is in a phase of price adjustment, where excessively high rents are anticipated to be curtailed by a surge in supply until a new equilibrium is established, aligning with the principles of Adam Smith’s renowned ‘invisible hand.’

The website emphasizes that the market is functioning according to its inherent dynamics, and the current correction is a response to the distortions caused by the pandemic. As the market adapts to the changing conditions, the influx of supply is expected to play a crucial role in mitigating unsustainable rent levels, ultimately leading to the discovery of a new balance through the market forces that drive Adam Smith’s economic theory.

“Some politicians, such as Sadiq Khan, would like to use this market distortion, brought about by an unprecedented pandemic, as an excuse to impose rent controls in London. Clearly, this measure would be counterproductive in that it would scare off landlords and never allow the market to solve the problem of high rents. 

“Supply would waste away, as it did during the rent control era of the 1970s, making life much more difficult for tenants and landlords alike.

“Ironically, the current wave of supply created by the market will do far more for London renters than any short-sighted legislation penned by the well-meaning but naive.” 


Property News UK, Rent Control UK, Sadiq Khan

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