Labour’s motion on housing, approved by delegates at the party’s annual conference in Brighton today, would take the private rented sector back to the 1980s the country’s leading landlord organisation has warned.
Within the motion, party members have voted in favour of longer tenancies with “predictable rents” and to introduce a national register of landlords.
Throughout the conference the party’s Shadow Communities and Local Government team have made clear that Labour prefers index linked rent rises. Such a policy would leave tenants worse off.
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that rents between May 2005 and May 2013 increased by just 8.4% across England compared with an RPI increase of 30.2% over the same period.
The last time the country had rent controls the private rented sector shrank from 55% of all households in 1939 to just 8% in the 1980s.
Research by the OECD has also shown that rent controls lead to greatly reduced quality and quantity of new homes. It concludes: “an illustrative correlation shows that across countries, stricter rent control tends to be associated with lower quantity and quality of rental housing, as measured by the share of tenants who lack space and who have a leaking roof.”
Commenting on the motion, Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said:
“The RLA remains seriously concerned that any move to control rents would leave tenants worse off and take us back to the bad old days of the eighties.
“Calls for rent controls are coming as a result of spiralling rents in a handful of inner city London Boroughs, the solution to which is the build more homes to rent. Rent controls remain a sticking plaster that masks rather than solves the problem.
“Proposals also for a national register of landlords would do little to find the minority of landlords who reap misery on tenant’s lives and wouldn’t come forward to make themselves known under any scheme. It’s time local authorities were freed up to focus on rooting out those who shouldn’t be allowed to rent property out, freeing the majority of decent, law abiding landlords to provide a good service within the framework of self-regulation.”
“Throughout the conference the RLA was heartened by comments by the Shadow Housing Minister, Jack Dromey that the party is giving serious consideration to the RLA’s right to renew tenancy proposal that would provide the security being sought whilst not harming mortgage provider business models. Crucially, this could be implemented immediately, without the need for costly and complex new legislation.”
The RLA represents almost 17,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales.
In June 2013 the Office for National Statistics report entitled Index of Private Housing Rental Prices, Historical Series can be found at http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/hpi/index-of-private-housing-rental-prices/historical-series/index.html .
In 2011 the OECD published its document, “Housing and the Economy: Policies for Renovation” which warned of the dangers of rent controls on page 18. It can be accessed at http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/46917384.pdf .
Details of the RLA’s ‘Right to Renew’ tenancy proposal can be found at http://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/lobbying/longtermtenancies.shtml .