The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for a two-year rent freeze in the capital until the Covid pandemic eases during which landlords would be allowed to reduce, but not increase rents.
Khan has written to Secretary of State Robert Jenrick asking for the powers required to bring in a rent freeze as the courts service, landlords, tenants and solicitors prepare for possession claim hearings to restart on Monday.
It seems unlikely that Khan will get his request – Conservative ministers are in an almost constant state of war with the Labour mayor and have yet to grant him any of the PRS powers requests he has made in the past, including previous attempts to bring in rent controls.
And yet Khan clearly believes he has a chance this time. “More than ever, COVID-19 means that many of London’s private renters are facing a really uncertain future,” he says.
“More likely to be in lower-paid and insecure work, the end of the furlough scheme means even more renters in the capital are now at risk of pay cuts or losing their job.
“Yet at every stage of this pandemic, renters have been treated as an afterthought by the Government, with protection measures only ever rushed out at the last minute.”
Chris Norris (right), Policy Director for the National Residential Landlords Association, says: “Rent controls would be a disaster for anyone looking for somewhere to rent.
“As history and experience elsewhere tells us, all they would do is drive landlords out of the market exacerbating an already serious shortage of homes available.”