Monday, July 22

Khan demands new powers to enforce rent controls



Sadiq Khan will demand an overhaul of tenancy laws in a campaign for London rent controls that is set to be the cornerstone of his 2020 re-election campaign.

The London mayor has said he intends to introduce a London private rent commission, with a board that would include current renters, to enforce measures to reduce rents and keep them at lower levels, but he currently lacks the legal power to do so.

Khan’s demand is unlikely to be viewed sympathetically by the Conservative government, but the mayor will launch a report at City Hall on Friday setting out the new powers he would require and a blueprint for the overhaul of the rental sector.

The report says the mayor is seeking devolved powers in order to:

  • Establish a universal register of landlords to access valuable data as well as enforce standards.
  • Establish a London private rent commission to design and implement an effective system of rent control.
  • Implement simple rent stabilisation measures such as caps on rent increases while the commission is being created.

The report says the average private rent for a one-bedroom home in London is now more than the average for a three-bed home in every other region of England. The proportion of Londoners renting privately has risen from 11% in 1990 to 26% last year.

Polling by YouGov and City Hall suggests more than two-thirds of Londoners favour caps on the amount landlords can charge, similar to systems in Berlin and New York.

In the German capital, which has recently announced a five-year rent freeze, rents are controlled both within and between tenancies. In New York City some apartments have their rents capped by a board.

Khan said Scotland had recently introduced laws allowing councils to apply “rent pressure zones” where rents could rise by no more than inflation, but the rest of England and Wales had very weak protections.

“It is high time for private renting in London to be transformed. Londoners need fundamental change that is long overdue,” Khan said. “Unlike other mayors around the world, I have no powers over the private rented sector.

That’s why this landmark report sets out a detailed blueprint of what the government must do to overhaul tenancy laws, and what powers City Hall needs from them to bring rents down.”

The report, authored by the Labour MP Karen Buck and the deputy mayor, James Murray, draws on proposals from a study by the New Economics Foundation (NEF).