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Could Starmer’s local devolution mean rent controls?

Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer has set out a radical programme of devolution to local authorities at city and county level - and which could, by accident or design, herald the introduction of rent controls. 

Starmer says the first King’s Speech under a Labour government would include a so-called Take Back Control bill - reclaiming the slogan of Brexit supporters - and this bill would devolve powers to local communities over employment support, transport, energy, climate change, culture, housing, culture and childcare provision.

Although details were light in Starmer’s speech, the inclusion of housing in his devolution agenda means local mayors and councils may be in a position to implement rent controls, more landlord licensing and other controls over the private rental sector.


Labour local government politicians have been fiercely pro-active in recent months, calling for additional powers over private rental properties.

Labour’s Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, is recruiting 10 people to enforce a new initiative he’s calling his ‘Good Landlord Scheme’. The staff will tackle what he calls bad private rental housing and take action against landlords not maintaining their properties.

The Welsh Government - a majority Labour administration with the support of the nationalist party Plaid Cymru - is proposing a statutory licensing scheme which would require landlords using AirBnb and other short let platforms to prove they have insurance, permission for the premises to be let, a fire risk assessment, gas safety certificate, and proof of electrical safety. Local authorities in Wales would then use the licensing database to identify hotspots for excessive’ numbers of holiday pets, which may then trigger additional local restrictions.

In London the Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has been vocal in calling for the power to freeze rents, end Section 21 evictions, lift the benefit cap, and unfreeze Local Housing Allowance rates.

And Bristol’s Labour council last month launched a survey to gather views of local residents about rent controls although it currently has no powers whatsoever to introduce such controls. A council body, made up of representatives from across the housing sector including renters, is exploring the issues facing tenants, and options to tackle what the council calls “the rent crisis in the city.”

Starmer’s speech yesterday - setting out his plan for campaigning in 2023 - said the Take Back Control bill would be "a centrepiece" of Labour plans if it wins the next general election, scheduled for late 2024 or early 2025. He says he is "utterly convinced" the Westminster system is not working and blames it for "hoarding power" and implementing short-term “sticking plaster politics”.

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  • George Dawes

    Summarising the results of years of research, the think-tank came up with nine reasons London and other cities should shun rent controls:

    Waiting lists for homes are horrendous - an average wait is 11.3 years for an apartment in the capital Stockholm and up to 30 years for subsidised flats

    Controlling rents pushes up costs for tenants

    Apartments are sub-let with rents often double the price the primary tenant pays

    Rent agreements are auctioned on a black market with organised crime moving in for a share of the profits. One in five young renters confess they have bought an illegal contract, while a rash of murders related to sub-letting apartments swept the city in 2014

    The cost of renting has skewed the market, with families outpriced by single tenants who now occupy large apartments while pushing families out of town and city centres.

    Companies complain they cannot recruit because rents are too high compared to wages.

    Costly rents have driven a wedge between highly paid and well-educated renters who can afford to live where they want, while poorer tenants on benefits must put up with unattractive homes in the suburbs

    Instead of levelling the rental market, the wealthy dominate, with any apartment in Stockholm larger than 180 square metres rented by someone in the top 1% of earners

    Rents only go up when landlords improve homes, so landlords carry out costly refurbishments that are unaffordable for average earners.

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    I am really concerned about devolving power to local communities. Whilst the Govt is not covered in glory with how it handles anything, many Councils are bankrupt and have lost millions of council payers £ in dodgy investments. At least currently, most legislation is national, the idea of individual councils being able to legislate willy nilly to fill their coffers & promote their agendas is terrifying!

    Nigel Spalding

    Totally agree. Besides the turn out rate to vote for councillors is very low - so really they have no legitimacy. There needs to be a major system change that takes back control from local councils as they were never voted in by the majority.


    If you want to see the future when loony lefties have the power to rule roughshod over sensible decent landlords and tenants, just look at Scotland under the yoke of the SNP and their little Green helpers.

    The only possible consolation could be that sensible Councils respecting free market forces would show the contrast between them and the loonies. However that contrast is currently visible between Scotland and the rest of the UK and is ignored by politicians of all parties.

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    Starmer will be in number 10 in a 18 months time and one of the first things his government will do is bring in rent controls, there is no getting away from that fact it will happen


    And that fact alone is fuelling rent rises as LLs put up rents 'jus in case'.

    Nigel Spalding

    And therefore ''will the last landlord to leave the PRS switch the light out''?


    Just wish the SNP had warned me of their plans as my rents have been frozen at 2018 levels - but that will change as soon as there is any change of tenant or their current rent freeze ends.

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    Why the f would anyone want to devolve more powers down to a local level? When have councils ever shown any ability to run anything properly?

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    Starmer is very left wing and this is a precursor to breaking up the union. Wales is a refugee sanctuary and Drakeford is desperately trying to get his hands on other people's property to hand it to "refugees".
    Birmingham council used to run things very very effectively but it is becoming an Islamic council.

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    These imbeciles that we refer to as politicians, these control-freaks can do what they want. All I can tell you that thanks to their constant meddling, their epc nonsense, their threats to give tenants more rights and the potential for sitting tenants coupled with rent controls has led to the following outcomes -
    1) My tenants (many who have been there 10 years plus) and pay £100 to £300 per month below market rent will now all be getting hikes and will be paying the full market rent

    2) They will be told the reasons and I will make it clear that should the government even hint at bringing in the option of making them sitting tenants (the dummies at labour haven't learnt the lessons from the past) they will be given a notice to leave.

    3) My money will go into asset classes with less meddling from low IQ moron politicians.

    4) I will invest abroad in countries with much less political interference. I will not have some civil service pleb telling me what I can and can't do with my hard-earned assets.

    My tenants were on to a good thing. These dumb politicians have wrecked it. This is what government interference does - higher energy costs, higher rents, lower standard of living.

    Nigel Spalding

    Yes they have killed the Golden Goose. That's why I am waiting for the right market conditions to sell up and be done with it - after 30 years in the business.


    I realise i come across as a heartless bast@rd but I'm not. I go out of my way to please my tenants and it really breaks my heart to have to do this to them but I can't have my asset prices tumble because some underachiever wants to bring everyone down to his miserable level. Communism/socialism is just jealousy dressed up as pretending to care for human rights. Some of these people are the worst mingebags I have ever come across with their human rights and nonsense. They do nothing for humanity other than speak for others and try to bring down successful people.



    The number of likes show how you come across. You are not a charity and the only thing you have done wrong has been subsidising your tenants for so long.

    You can easily justify putting up your rents right now and offer to allow them to leave as soon as they want with good references if they can't afford to pay the market rent.

    Rolls Royce refuse to sell me a car for what I can afford to pay but that's life!

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    Just another arrangement of the deckchairs.

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    This is just a case of Kier not wanting the blame when all his policies generate the inevitable result. He will bring in his rent controls (and a raft of all sorts of punitive green legislation aimed at taxing you more, and giving you less because living in poverty with high tax is good for the environment according to lefty governments - and I include the tories in that bracket now).

    But if he brings this stuff in, he would have to justify what he did and fix it when it all goes wrong. If he shirks his responsibility and calls it “devolved power” he will then be able to say - these decisions are made locally. He gets to look virtuous whilst absolving himself of responsibility for the negative outcomes he knows he will bring about. Sneaky, but in honesty you have to admire the foresight.


    Yes, landlords are sleeping. When these children of Stalin bring in these controls, we will be screwed. Our asset prices will tumble. People need to learn the lessons of the past.

    Rhetoric has been whipped up against landlords. We are hated. They want our asset prices to collapse without impacting the wider market (they know that would be distrous). The best way they achieve that is with the EPC nonsense. Many landlords won't have the cash to make C, (those that do, will be targeted with a b a few years after) many will back out, a glut of properties which are now on rent controls and rights for tenants to stay indefinitely. That will mean your house will be valued according to the rental income and buyers will expect a high return meaning your house will massively reduce in price. Don't believe me, check out property prices with tenants that have such rights. They exist.

    The goal is to create more home ownership, allowing first time buyers to buy up crashing landlord stock. Redistribution. Basically, there is little point in saving, investing, working hard in the UK it's become a communist sh'thole. Just be a drunk, spend all your salary on rubbish and don't aspire to be nothing. This government are truly evil.

  • jeremy clarke

    The biggest problem is that our current "blue" government just keep moving further to the red side! In 18 months when the next election is due it will be impossible to tell which party is which.

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    The laugh is that the Tories are implementing mainly Labours policies and are getting the blame for it !

  • George Dawes

    Sitting tenants , just what we need …. Not


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