London’s mayor has called on the government to give him the power to limit the amount that landlords can charge tenants, in a bid to solve the housing crisis gripping the capital.
Sadiq Khan said this week that arguments for rent control were “overwhelming”, and that residents across the city support it. “London is in the middle of a desperate housing crisis that has been generations in the making,” Khan told the Guardian newspaper.
“I am doing everything in my power to tackle it – including building record numbers of new social homes – but I have long been frustrated by my lack of powers to help private renters.”
But would imposing the measure solve London’s renting nightmare? The answer, it seems, depends on who you ask and what form it takes.
What is rent control?
Rent control laws seek to stabilise prices within a local rental market.
They most often come in two forms: a cap on the amount a landlord can increase the cost of renting a property by while the tenant is living there; or a cap on how much a landlord can rent a property out for overall.
Has rent control worked in the past?
Regulations governing the cost of rents were very common in Britain between the end of the Second World War and the 1980s.
“Fair rents” would be determined by rent officers, who would visit individual properties to determine the maximum amount that could be charged by a landlord to tenants.
However, these rules ended after a government effort to open up the rental market and increase incentives for landlords to improve the quality of their properties.
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There are a very small number of properties in the UK still subject to rent control, or “regulated tenancies”, with many paid for through housing benefit.
Of around 1.5 million private tenants claiming housing…