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Mayor wants freeze on London rents

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Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has written to Housing Minister Robert Jenrick, calling on the Government to give him the powers to freeze private rents in London for two years.

He said this is necessary to combat the economic fallout from the Coronavirus Crisis which, he said, would include a ‘tsunami of evictions’ unless there is further Government support for renters.

The new emergency powers should allow a freeze on rent increases ‘both between and within tenancies’, and would be effective immediately. The Mayor also asked for an option to extend the two-year freeze if the economic outlook for renters does not improve.

‘More than ever, COVID-19 means that many of London’s private renters are facing a really uncertain future. More likely to be in lower-paid and insecure work, the end of the furlough scheme means even more renters in the capital are now at risk of pay cuts or losing their jobs. Yet at every stage of this pandemic, renters have been treated as an afterthought by the Government, with protection measures only ever rushed out at the last minute’, said Khan.

‘This uncertainty is causing unnecessary anxiety and stress. I’m today calling on ministers to give me the powers to stop rents rising in the capital for as long as this virus is with us, to give London’s 2.2m renters more financial security. If Berlin can freeze rents for five years, there’s no reason London shouldn’t be able to freeze rents for two years in these extraordinary times’.

The National Landlord Knowledge’s Association was quick to react, calling the Mayor’s proposal ‘a disaster’ for tenants.

Rent controls would drive landlords out of the market, exacerbating an already serious shortage of homes available’ said NRLA policy director Chris Norris.

‘Rather than driving a wedge between landlords and tenants, the Mayor should focus on using the powers he already has to boost the supply of available housing, including for private rent. Only then will he make any discernible impact on improving the affordability of housing across the capital’, he said.