Jeremy Corbyn has made the unusual step of personally defending two of his party’s most radical housing policies – rent caps and an annual ‘MOT’ for rented properties backed up by a fine of up to £100,000 for non-compliance.
The policies are contained within Labour’s election manifesto launched late last week. They were immediately savaged by landlords including the Residential Landlords Association, which said both policies would ‘close down the private rented market’.
An RLA statement said that Labour’s plans for rent controls linked to inflation are ‘nonsense’.
“The Office for National Statistics has shown that rents are increasing by less than inflation,” the statement said.
“The Party has failed to heed the warning of the Labour Chair of Parliament’s Housing Committee who has previously warned that rising rents will only be addressed when more homes are built.
“The party’s former Housing Minister in Wales has also warned that rent controls serve only to reduce the quality of accommodation, choke off supply, and make it more difficult for tenants to find the homes to rent they need.”
Faced by such criticism, Corbyn has defended the policies, telling the BBC that: “What we’re doing is ensuring that all tenants have somewhere decent, safe and secure in which to live and I can’t imagine that any landlord would object to their property being inspected to ensure it’s up to standard to be put on the rental market,” he said.
“Surely that’s a reasonable basic thing to do in society – we don’t want people living in sub-stand accommodation.”
And Renters’ representative bodies have supported the rent cap and property MOT, including Generation Rent, whose policy manager Caitlin Williams says:
“Capping rents will go some way towards ensuring that renting is genuinely affordable for those on low incomes, but over the long term we need measures to sustainably bring rents down to around 30% of median local incomes.”