Labour’s London Mayor - buoyed up after the party’s successes in the capital in last week’s elections - has renewed his call for rent controls generally and for him to be given the power to impose private sector rent controls.
Sadiq Khan makes his plea in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, following Labour taking control of previous Conservative strongholds Westminster and Wandsworth in the May 5 local elections.
He says the rent freeze and additional powers should be announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, which is expected to include a pledge to abolish landlords’ Section 21 eviction powers.
Mayor Khan writes:
“I am writing ahead of the Queen’s speech to urge you to take immediate action to ease the cost of living crisis for 2.4 million Londoners by devolving the powers to me to introduce rent control in London.
“If we do not act urgently to protect renters, spiralling rents could soon translate into a devastating homelessness crisis.
“The latest statistics on rents are stark. According to Rightmove, average asking rents in London in Q1 of 2022 hit a new record of £2,193 pcm which is a 14.3 per cent rise from the same time last year. This is the biggest annual jump of any region since records began.
“The Homelet rental index for March 2022 shows that renters in London are now spending 34.6 per cent of their income on rent. This coincides with an energy price increase of almost £700, with further increases to come, and the rapid inflation in the cost of everyday essentials.
“I have repeatedly asked for the powers to design and implement a system of rent control for London which would help to reduce the financial pressure on renters, without choking off supply. The Queen’s speech is an opportunity to commit to this, but such a system will take time to introduce.
“In the meantime, I urge you to implement a two-year rent freeze to relieve the pressure on already-stretched renters.
“Figures published by City Hall in March suggest this would save struggling Londoners almost £3,000 on average. Your recent Levelling Up white paper extends the offer of further devolution to cities like London, which I warmly welcome. I am asking for new powers to support private renters, including by raising standards in the rental market through property licensing.
“I also welcome the government’s commitment to ending section 21, introducing open-ended tenancies and creating a public national landlord register. I look forward to seeing more detail in the forthcoming Renters Reform white paper.
“However, affordability is clearly the most urgent issue facing the majority of renters, and currently the government remains silent on this issue. I am asking you to take the action necessary to prevent a major crisis now and to work with me to build a better London for everyone.
“Together we can protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society from the worst that is yet to come.”
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