According to Hannah Fearn writing for The Guardian Housing Network, the only UK political party that is openly supporting the introduction of rent controls in the private rented sector is the Green party.
In fact the main opposition, Labour, and several campaigning organisations, including quite a few individual MPs, have been pushing for a form of rent control recently.
Claiming that Westminster is “out of step with the general public”, Fearn cites “a recent survey” showing that fewer than 10% of Britons oppose rent control, while almost 60% support the policy.
Turkeys won’t vote for Christmas, but you can bet tenants will always vote for reduced rents – that’s a given. As for the general public, their sympathies, it would seem, always go out to any group having to pay out, so it’s hardly surprising that when asked, they would add their support.
While critics are warning that capping rents will drive landlords out of the buy-to-let rental market, and push down housing standards, Fearn is arguing that politicians are running scared of implementing these measures.
She thinks the mainstream parties are frightened to get on the wrong side of private landlords, “who now control the vast swathes of the nation’s housing” and that the consequences of “trying to cosy up to them now at the expense of the wishes of the electorate may prove costly at the ballot box.”
Fern says that housing is an important policy area for younger voters and that pollsters are well aware of this:
“…parties will be planning strong lines on housing to share with younger voters closer to the May general election.”
“Young people in their 20s have no collective memory of the risks associated with rent controls; they just want to see something done to address their generation’s housing crisis.”
But despite the general assumption that young people don’t vote and “lean to the left”, this, according to Fearn, gave Labour an advantage of only one percentage point against the other main parties among 18- to 24-year-old voters last time, in 2010.
That leaves all to play for in the election on housing and youth.