Mayor Khan has drafted a letter to the Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, urging the Government to give him the necessary powers to put a freeze on private rents in London for the next two years.
Since his election Sadiq Khan has repeatedly called for powers to impose a regime of rent controls in London, but this time he is arguing that it is necessary to have a freeze to tackle the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic, This crisis he says would include a ‘tsunami of evictions’ unless there is further Government support for private tenants.
The new emergency powers should allow a freeze on rent increases “both between and within tenancies”, and would be effective immediately the Mayor has said. He has also asked for an option to extend the two-year freeze if the economic outlook for renters does not improve.
Mr Khan says:
“More than ever, COVID-19 means that many of London’s private renters are facing a really uncertain future. 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 jobs. 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.
“This uncertainty is causing unnecessary anxiety and stress. I’m today calling on ministers to give me the powers to stop rents rising in the capital for as long as this virus is with us, to give London’s 2.2m renters more financial security. If Berlin can freeze rents for five years, there’s no reason London shouldn’t be able to freeze rents for two years in these extraordinary times,” Khan says.
The National Residential Landlord’s Association has been quick to respond to the suggestions, branding the Mayor’s proposal ‘a disaster’ for tenants.
NRLA policy director Chris Norris has said:
“Rent controls would drive landlords out of the market, exacerbating an already serious shortage of homes available.
‘Rather than driving a wedge between landlords and tenants, the Mayor should focus on using the powers he already has to boost the supply of available housing, including for private rent. Only then will he make any discernible impact on improving the affordability of housing across the capital,’ he said.