Despite previously saying it would consider rent controls, Labour’s shadow housing minister Lisa Nandy has now confirmed that the party now opposes them, it has been reported.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s conference today, Nandy told delegates that the policy would be a ‘short-term fixing plaster’ to solve the housing crisis.
Her comments put her at odds with Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan who has repeatedly said rent controls are the answer to the capital’s high rents.
There is also consternation within that such a key policy has been jettisoned by Labour, with the green party in Scotland and England accusing Nandy of ‘flip flopping’.
Nandy said: “As the mortgage crisis deepens - for homeowners and renters alike - it is perhaps inevitable that the debate has turned again to short term fixes.
"And when housebuilding is falling off a cliff and buy-to-let landlords are leaving the market, rent controls that cut rents for some, will almost certainly leave others homeless.”
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, welcomed Labour’s change of heart, adding that: “We agree with Labour that rent controls would do nothing to address the rental supply crisis that tenants across the country now face.
“What renters need is a proper plan to boost the supply of homes for private rent alongside all other tenures.
“Housing benefit rates should also be unfrozen without delay to support vulnerable tenants who are struggling to access the rental market.”
Rent controls also attracted lukewarm comments in the Welsh parliament this week when First Minister Mark Drakeford said they were a ‘blunt instrument’ – although his counterparts in Scotland would disagree, where rent controls were recently extended until next year.
Property lawyer David Smith of JMW says: "Not a surprise that Labour is pulling back from rent control. There is little evidence of its effectiveness and lots of evidence that it doesn't work. Much more important to increase supply."