The research shows that renters want rent controls that make a difference, but that aren’t so tough on landlords that they feel forced to sell-up.
Beyond Affordability, a Fabian Society report published in partnership with housing and homeless charity Shelter, lays out a framework for politicians seeking to implement a rent control policy. It presents the priorities and concerns of renters themselves, gathered through a series of six in-depth focus groups held across England. The report is published amidst growing political attention to the policy, with both the UK Labour party and London Mayor Sadiq Khan committed to the policy.
The key lessons in the report include:
- There is strong support for rent controls among the tenants we spoke to. They want the policy to address the key problems they face: insecurity, powerlessness and high rents.
- Fairness and security are higher priorities than saving money. Renters aren’t motivated simply by a desire to reduce the cost of their rent. They prioritise having fair and transparent rules for the level of rent; a chance for greater security in their home; and a system that is fair for both tenants and landlords.
- Renters are pragmatic and worried about unintended consequences. They want a rent control policy that goes far enough to make a noticeable difference, but are concerned by unintended consequences such as any proposals causing landlords to sell up. To win support for any rent control plans, politicians must think through implementation and take steps to mitigate any adverse impacts on private renters themselves.
- Renters want rent controls to be part of a wider package. The problems in the private rented sector go far beyond the level of rent and tenants want action on a range of issues including social housing.
Report co-author and Fabian Society deputy general secretary Olivia Bailey said:
“Well designed rent controls can tackle rising costs and falling standards in the private rented sector. But politicians must base their plans on the views of renters themselves.
“Tenants want rent controls to enhance their security and make the system fairer. They want help with soaring costs but are worried about slashing rents which could risk landlords selling up.
“A policy that offers fairness, security and stable rents will command support at the ballot box and give millions of people the comfort and security of an affordable, decent home.”
Greg Beales, campaigns director of Shelter, commented:
“Many of the country’s 11 million private renters are feeling the full force of the housing crisis and there’s no doubt they need a fairer deal. We hear from people every day who, despite working every hour they can, constantly struggle to cover their rent.
“Rent controls are used around the world to give tenants predictable and stable rents, which allow renters to plan for the future and feel secure in their homes. This report shows an appetite among renters here for sensible rent control proposals, and demonstrates how they could be viable for policymakers.
“But any form of rent control must always work for those hit hardest by affordability pressures. And, as this research shows, no form of rent control can be hailed as a magic cure. Any scheme must sit alongside a clear government commitment to build the 3 million social homes this country needs, to solve the housing emergency once and for all.”
Contact: Rabyah Khan, media and communications manager at the Fabian Society
0207 227 4906 | 07888861096 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Beyond Affordability is available here.
- Beyond Affordability has been published in partnership with the housing and homelessness charity Shelter.
- The Fabian Society carried out six focus groups in April 2019 in three locations: Reading, Manchester, and London. We selected these three locations because they all have a high proportion of private renters. One focus group in each location was representative of the general population of private renters, while the other group in each location was specifically targeted towards a population group of interest. In Reading, it was young professionals aged 25 to 34; in Manchester, it was long-term renters with no intention to buy in the immediate future; in London, it was parents with dependent children.
- This report represents not the collective views of the organisations involved but only the views of the individual author.
- Shelter and Fabian Society staff are available for interview.
- The Fabian Society is Britain’s oldest political think tank. Founded in 1884, the Society is at the forefront of developing political ideas and public policy on the left. The society is alone among think tanks in being a democratically-constituted membership organisation, with over 7,000 members. It is constitutionally affiliated to the Labour party.
Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services. We campaign to make sure that, one day, no will have to turn to us for help. For free and independent advice from Shelter visit: https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help