Rent controls were a disaster for the PRS during the 1980s, warns ex-agent MP

Kevin Hollinrake, founder of Hunters, says his experience of the policy 40 years ago should be a warning for those campaigning to re-introduce them.

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Parliament has been warned that rent controls would be a disaster for the rental market, a leading industry figure and MP has warned.

Kevin Hollinrake, the founder of estate agency Hunters and MP for Thirsk and Malton, says the policy would lead to more regulation and less housing supply.

His comments came during a debate in the Commons about Section 21 evictions, during which he told fellow MPs that controls had removed the free market when he worked as an estate agent in York during the 1980s.

“There was so little choice back then because we did not have Section 21, so if someone invested in the private rented sector and rented a property out – if they were a landlord – and somebody occupied their property, in effect they did so permanently, if they wanted,” he said.

“Members might think that is a really good idea and the solution to our problems; I fear it would lead to many unintended consequences, as it did back then.”

He added that rent controls measures being advocated by opposition MPs would lead to a reduction in supply, which would ultimately be massively counterproductive for tenants and that Section 21 evictions should not be abolished without more measures relating to how the sector dealt with Section 8 evictions – which at the moment take too long and are too expensive to achieve.

In its White Paper, the Government said S21 evictions would be abolished and that landlords could then use an ‘improved’ S8 notice to eject troublesome tenants or those with rent arrears – but so far any details have been thin on the ground.


  1. Home ownership inthe UK peaked in 2003 when it reached 70.9% of the available stock.

    Owner occuppier share of the market has slipped down to 64% of the market by 2021.
    (Sorce ONS)

    Buy-to Let as existed throughout this period.

    The Private Rented Sector (PRS) has just over doubled from 9% in 1988 to around 20% today.

    This is over a period of 34 years.

    In Germany & France the PRS is 40% of the market and no house price inflation.

    All of this is driven by the lack of house construction, both private and public sector.

    Why build more homes when the big house builders have been making as much as 30% net profit and hold large land banks?

    Supply is the source of the problem.

  2. Rent control, and the abolition of section 21, are measures which assist bad tenants but harm good tenants. The cause of the bad tenants is promoted relentlessly by Left-wing pressure groups, like Shelter and Generation Rent. They obsess over a small number of cases where landlords behave unscrupulously and uncommercially in not maintaining the physical, capital and rental value of their properties.
    Progressive politicians are gullible enough to believe the lobby groups. Here is another arena in which to champion social justice, they see, and divide us all into the worthy and the wicked. Landlords join white straight males as an easy target for the self-righteous, on behalf of the supposedly oppressed.

    There are three problems with this approach which should warn conservative politicians off. First, the overriding of people’s rights to recover their properties is a chilling infringement of property rights. This is a hard, fundamental right in a free society. We own our property and the State cannot march into it, with its own agenda.

    Second, these controls will reduce supply. Landlords will invest elsewhere if the risks of being a residential landlord rise and returns fall. Landlords increase the overall supply of housing, by using the existing stock more intensely and developing old properties more fully. Inflexible planning controls, restricting housing supply, of course mean the rental sector will be larger, even though Conservatives would like to see a growth in home ownership.

    Third, the Socialist approach to feather-bedding the underclass is always counter-productive. We see the failure of the Progressive white middle-class savior approach right across social and economic policy. Human beings respond better to being challenged than to being infantilized. We see this in the increase in adolescent crime through weaker family structures thanks to easy divorce. We see it in the high crime rates with low profile policing in ethnic minority areas. It is seen clearly with children. Observe the success of strict headmistress Katherine Birbalsingh with her zero tolerance school policy, resulting in high achievement from supposedly underprivileged minority ethnic children. Returning to the rental market, indulging the anti-social tenant who does not reliably pay his rent and maintain his property, and who falls out with his neighbours, housemates and landlord, does not in the end do good for that tenant, let alone the neighbours, housemates and landlord, over whom the politicians want to give him more power.

    An important property trend which I have never seen the mainstream press report on, but is well-known to landlords, is the significant improvement in standards of HMO properties in major cities in particular over the past ten years. This has come about because of attractive returns available to landlords investing in this sector. It shows just how far the Conservative Party has been seduced away from its principles, by self-righteous social justice Progressivism, that one has to point out to them that the good old free market trounces bureaucratic regulation, in delivering what the customer wants.

  3. At last, an MP with some real world experience.
    The do gooders will bury him in absolute rubbish about “protecting the vulnerable”.
    There are always those who are financially illiterate saying we must protect these people.
    One of the first questions both Local Authorities and Housing Associations ask is:

    Does the tenant have any rent arrears?

    If the landlord says Yes the tenant is excluded from the list.

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