As part of his re-elction bid, Sadiq Khan has hinted that he is considering introducing rent controls across London. Christine Whitehead explains what has actually been suggested, how it compares to private rented sectors elsewhere in Europe, and who may stand to gain from such changes.
In January 2019, Sadiq Khan announced that he had asked James Murray, Deputy Mayor for housing, and Karen Buck MP for Westminster North to develop a blueprint for an overhaul of the laws for private renters. This will set out a strategic approach to rent control and security of tenure which will be a key plank of his 2020 re-election bid.
The initiative is hardly new – the Mayor has been raising the issue since his first election bid in 2015/16 and the Greater London Authority is already putting in place a possible London model of tenure security. Importantly, although the term ‘rent control’ has been prominent in the debate, the reality of what is proposed appears to be rent stabilisation rather than traditional rent control, which fixed rents at a given time and gave no promise about future rises. Rent stabilisation, on the other hand, allows the initial rent to be set by the market, but then constrains maximum increases in rents within the tenancy to be in line with some more general index.