Two of the most prominent campaigners over rent controls - albeit one on either side of the argument - have had a public spat about the issue on Twitter.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan took to social media to retweet an article in business daily City AM which reported increasing rents in the capital.
“Our private rental market can’t continue like this – it’s not sustainable for Londoners who are struggling with other rising costs too. The government must allow me to freeze rents in the capital” tweeted Khan, repeating a demand for new pourers which he has made on an almost weekly basis for almost five years.
While Khan’s tweets usually get only low profile criticism, on this occasion Ben Beadle - chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association - took to the keyboard to say: “Another day, another call for a rent freeze from the man who’s in charge of housing numbers in London. So rather than deflect and choke off supply further, why not do something already in your control like increase supply and investor confidence which will bring rents down?”
Beadle didn’t leave it there. Tapping into growing criticism of Khan’s transport policies, too, he continued: “You could also help people by not increasing costs – licensing, [car tax] ULEZ extension, fares – and perhaps support NRLA calls for a review of property taxation and encourage pro-growth measures. Just a thought.”
The UK government has long dismissed the idea of rent controls in England, while the Welsh Labour government considered the issue but felt on balance such controls would be counter productive. Rent controls exist in Scotland, driven by the Green Party which has an informal alliance with the Scottish National Party.
Khan has no powers to introduce rent controls for the private sector but has long campaigned for his authority to be strengthened by the delegation of more powers and funding from central government.
At his first Mayor’s Question Time in May 2016, shortly after he took office, Khan told other London politicians: “I have no plans to introduce rent controls, nor the powers to do so."
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