It does seem that the spectre of rent control seems to be making a bit of a comeback – particularly in London. The argument is that rents in London are ‘out of control’ and therefore need to be ‘controlled’. Of course it is an argument mainly only put forward by misguided Labour politicians, who seem to have forgotten what happened the last time that introduced rent controls.
Rents and all property costs are indeed very high in London but that is simply down to massive demand, partly because of immigration and the attraction of the capital to business and wealthy people and inadequate supply. It is really awful for young people particularly who need to work in London and are forced to rent because they cannot find the huge amount of cash needed for a deposit these days. However, if the government were to attempt to state how much, let’s say a two bedroom flat in Westminster should be, then how would they allocate which one of the 150 or so people bidding for it actually were allowed to rent it?! Perhaps they would have a lottery, or maybe a beauty contest or perhaps some form of physical test! All that will happen if the authorities are ever stupid enough to bring in rent control is that landlords will start putting flats and house up for sale.
However, I do think the idea being touted of giving tenants the opportunity to get more security from rent reviews by allowing 3 year tenancies is a good idea. It is important that people who are renting can plan more than is possible at the moment. This would of course have to go hand in hand with more power for landlords to QUICKLY evict bad tenants who damage the property or stop paying the rent.
Of course the only answer to reducing rents/house prices in London is to simply build more flats and houses.