Housing

Sadiq Khan’s plans for London rent controls could emulate Berlin successes

The Mayor of London told an MP about desperately needed reforms to private renting in the capital

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is looking into how rent controls could reduce poverty and gentrification in the capital, it has been revealed.

In a letter to Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North, Khan said the reasons to approach private rent stabilisation strategically are “overwhelming”, before pointing out that he had “long advocated such reforms; in 2013, [he] suggested reforms could give renters the right to longer-term tenancies and predictable rents”.

Radical remodelling of the private rent structure across the capital could mean introducing open-ended tenancies and an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions, which were found by housing campaign group Generation Rent to leave 216 families homeless every week.

It could also mean getting a handle on astronomical – and still spiralling – rent rates in the city, which drive poverty, exacerbate inequality and cultivate gentrification.

Rent control advocates often take inspiration from the controversial but relatively successful law brought in by Germany in 2015. It stipulates that landlords can’t charge new tenants any more than 10 per cent of the average price of a similar property in the area.

Prior to its introduction, average rents in some areas had risen by almost 50 per cent over a decade, and Berlin’s population has been increasing by 40,000 a year. Only 43 per cent of Germans own their homes – compared to 70 per cent in the UK.

Within just one month of rent caps being implemented in Berlin, a three per cent drop in average rent prices was recorded. Private rental rates have since grown organically along with inflation but the restriction has kept them from spiralling, resulting in a market which is fiercely competitive but affordable.

But German Institute for Economic Research findings showed that the country-wide legislation only had an impact in areas where rent was already well outgrowing inflation. Researcher Konstantin Kholodilin said that Germany’s housing crisis could only be solved if the government increased incentive to build new housing, something which is “simply unavoidable” – and may ring true with London renters in particular.

However, radical rent caps for London may not be on the horizon immediately: Khan is said to be “frustrated” by his lack of power to help the 2.4 million Londoners who rent their homes privately. James Murray, Deputy Mayor for housing & residential development, told The Big Issue that the Mayor “believes [renters] are being let down by a legislative framework which is out of date and not fit for purpose”.

Murray added: “Although he has no powers over tenancies or rent levels, his ‘London Model’ will set out a proposed blueprint for reforming tenancies, which he will urge Ministers to adopt.

“However, security of tenure cannot be separated from affordability and the huge pressures Londoners face from rising rents. Once his ‘London Model’ work is complete in spring 2019, he will consider what measures to campaign and lobby for to help address affordability in London’s private rented sector.”

Khan previously fought to ensure access to interest-free tenancy deposit loans for 100,000 Londoners, as well as introducing the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker – the UK’s first such public database which has been checked more than 60,000 times.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling
inflation is falling but rents are still rising at a faster rate than wages
RENTING

'More bad news for renters': Rental crisis continues with steep rent rises despite inflation falling

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?
Angela Rayner announces Labour new town plan
Housing

Labour promises wave of new towns if elected. But will they make a dent in UK's housing crisis?

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them
Renters angry at no-fault evictions, Renters Reform Bill delay and a lack of rent controls
RENTING

Over 90,000 households threatened with no-fault evictions since Tories promised to ban them

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'
Housing crisis

Starmer warned over glaring omission in Labour's six general election pledges: 'I'm disappointed'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know