Who’s Afraid of Rent Controls?

rent controlRenting is London is out of control. This is well known to most people – especially those who are unfortunate enough to be tenants themselves.There are a range of issues, short contracts, expensive estate agent charges, poor maintenance etc. But the biggest issue is simply price, the extortionate cost of renting in London that makes it impossible for many to remain in the city especially as the government and the mayor require housing associations which want to build any new sub-market housing to increase rents on both the new and existing properties towards a laughingly titled ‘affordable rent’ of 80% of market value. As a result London is becoming less of a mixed city, and increasingly a playground for the wealthy, which threatens to destroy everything about London which makes it great. So what can be done?

The most obvious solution, one that would be supported by the vast majority of the renting population is rent capping. By this I mean not only a cap on the rate of increase the landlords can charge to existing tenants (although that would be a start) but a legal maximum that landlords could charge for their properties. The rate would probably differ across the city – it would be set by councils who would categorise properties along similar lines to council tax bands. Such a policy is in operation in many countries across the world such as Holland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark as well as in some American cities such as New York and Washington D.C. Introducing such a policy in London (one of the least regulated rental markets in the developed world) could be transformative, making life easier for renters and their dependents, ensuring London remains a mixed city. Continue reading