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It’s War! Activist groups in conflict over Labour report and rent controls

The fragile peace between different groups in the Renters Reform Coalition has ended in a dispute about a Labour-commissioned report on housing.

So-called "rent stabilisation" measures have been proposed by Labour council chief Stephen Cowan in a report commissioned some 16 months ago by Labour’s then shadow housing secretary, Lisa Nandy. 

The report is being launched today and calls for rent increases within tenancies to be capped at the level of local wage growth or in line with the Consumer Price Index - whichever is lower.


Tom Darling, the campaign manager of the Renters’ Reform Coalition, says: “These appear to be a commonsense set of proposals for reforming the private rented sector. It will be critical that, if Labour is to win the general election, it gets on and delivers a package of reforms along these lines – and fast.”

On social media Darling backed the report again, saying: “These appear to be moderate, common-sense proposals to keep more renters in their homes, for longer. That will deliver security of tenure for renters who, facing an acute and ever-growing renting crisis, have been so badly let down by the government.”

However another group in the Renters Reform Coalition thinks differently.

A statement from the London Renters Union says: “Proposals to cap rents within tenancies put forward by a Labour-commissioned report will not make renting more affordable … Only comprehensive rent controls that are linked to the property, rather than the individual tenancy, have the power to lower the cost of renting relative to wages over time for everyone.”

And an LRU spokesperson adds: “Millions of renters are being pushed into poverty and out of our communities by a worsening affordability crisis. We urgently need rent controls that go beyond simply curbing the most excessive rent hikes. 

“We need regulations that are linked to the property, rather than the tenancy, and work to make renting more affordable over time for everyone.”

The irony is that the conflict between the groups is largely academic as the Labour Party has officially ruled out rent controls.

A spokesperson has told the media: “While we do believe action needs to be taken to protect renters and rebalance power, rent controls are not Labour party policy as we remain mindful of the risk they could pose to the availability of rental properties and the harmful impacts any reduction in supply would have on renters.”

And the Guardian says the launch event for the Nandy/Cowan report - scheduled for later today - is not being attended by any Labour front benchers.

An additional irony - pointed out by the Guardian - is that many of the other recommendations made in the Nandy/Cowan report are similar to those in the Renters Reform Bill, currently being debated in the House of Lords. 

Generation Rent, another activist group which has often spoken in favour of policies adopted by Labour, has so far made no official comment on the new report - nor whether it backs the report’s proposals over official Labour policy. 

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  • George Dawes

    Reminds me of that scene in life of brian where all the factions end up fighting each other non stop

  • Sarah Fox-Moore

    Whiist they squabble over (what is not theirs) and who should get what and how much, landlords (whose property it is) will have walked out and sold up.

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    For any "reform" to be balanced, they only need to follow the banks (and other lenders) example, where our Buy To Let mortgages are based on the rent being anywhere from125% to 150% of the mortgage, as a minimum. That's the basis - if the mortgage goes up, the rent should go up to cover it. That's all it needs to be.

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    On a very basic level ….. This is really funny 😄, popcorn 🍿 at the ready 🎥

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    Good tenants usually have very modest or no rent increase if that is financially viable for the landlord.
    If it isn't financially viable the choice is either a bigger rent increase or eviction so the landlord can sell.
    None of us would choose to lose a good tenant and risk a void plus a new tenant being a complete pain.
    However, it needs to be recognised we can only work within the financial constraints we are presented with. Currently a great many of us haven't managed to increase rents by anywhere close to how much our mortgages and the corresponding Section 24 tax have increased.

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    I’m currently putting rents up for the first time for my long term tenants and the reason is simple … the multiplying effect of section 24 on increased mortgage rates. I’ve calculated that if my interest goes up by £100 I have to increase rent by £170 to stand still. This is once I take the extra management fees off the rent and the affect of section 24. Removal of section 24 would have a much greater affect on keeping rents down that rent controls. Properties that were profitable pre the interest increase now leave me out of pocket net after tax so I have no choice.

  • Fed Up Landlord

    Fast forward to the place that will become Renters Utopia. A Liebour government, with Sir Snake Charmer at it's head, and Angela " CGT" Rayner as his trusty sidekick. A poor mans Batman and Robin.

    No properties to rent.
    No social housing.
    No council housing.

    A bit like it is now. Only worse.

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    So landlords don’t fall behind because they haven’t increased rents over the years to good tenants they now need to consider increasing rents while they can. Also the landlord will need to avail themselves of permitted increases

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    It’s like watching rats in a sack. I like the Gove four months notice of a rent increase. Were that to come in, landlords would look at small interest rate rises in a different light. If rates rose by say a quarter of a percent, we would have to calculate how much they COULD rise over the next year. Landlords would then increase rents accordingly and perhaps more than they needed to just to be on the safe side.

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    Simon Miller, it is not just the mortgage rate increases, it is the increased cost of maintaining the properties, especially the damages done by the tenants. After covid, all workmen have increased their prices, along with the supermarkets, maybe due to credit. Cost of boiler replacement, continual purchase of appliances, flooring. Tenants given a new cooker, which is never cleaned. On inspection, they say they would do it before they leave. It is never cleaned properly, even professional clean does not make it look good, so new tenants continually ask for new oven, hob etc.


    A good reason not to provide cookers.
    I've found no problem with not providing them as tenants can get their own (and then might look after them).
    Where I did provide a cooker, tenants in time replaced it with their own anyway; and without letting me know wrapped it in plastic and left it outside the house (under a lean to).
    Tenants since received their s21 and have left. My cooker dirty outside despite their plastic wrapping, with rust marks and gaffer tape residue from the wrapping.

    No way was I going to let them remain with s21 going and unlimited tenancy lengths in the RRBill.
    We've heard of 'revenge evictions'; I've just had the opposite: not doing any cleaning or even hoovering when they left, their revenge for being made to leave. So stupid/thick they think they can do that, not pay the last half month rent, and still expect even some of their deposit returned. And they still claim to be 'model tenants'!

    Soon to be sold, so one less rental available to those who might want one.

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    One of the MAIN reasons why We PLL’S increase rents is because of all the extra f in red tape and extra certs that are now compulsory to do. If they weren’t all these - increases would not be so widespread and much.

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    The old adage rings true, sell in May and go away


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