The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is launching his re-election campaign with a challenge to Boris Johnson to allow rent controls to be introduced if Khan wins another term in office.
Khan said victory on 7 May would mean Johnson could no longer ignore demands for the policy as he would be “ignoring the democratic will of millions of Londoners”.
Kickstarting his campaign at a housing estate in Hackney on Tuesday, the mayor was due to say: “The case for rent controls is now absolutely undeniable. But Tory ministers have blocked us from introducing our plans for rent controls in London and have simply said no.
“That’s why today I am making the mayoral election on 7 May a referendum on rent controls – showing Londoners that I will stand up for renters. The prime minister will have to give us the powers we need, because if he refuses to do so he will be denying the express democratic will of millions of Londoners. And as we have all heard Boris Johnson repeatedly say himself, the democratic will of the people must be respected and it is not for politicians to frustrate it.”
There are 2.4 million private tenants across the capital, spending on average 43% of their income on rent. Between 2010 and 2020 rent costs rose by almost a third in London, and the average private rent for a one-bed home is now more than the average for a three-bed in every other region of England.
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Khan said his rent control plan would establish a new London private rent commission, with renters on its board, to implement and enforce measures to control rents.
Rent control schemes exist in other major cities. In Berlin, rents are controlled both within and between tenancies. In New York City, some rents are capped by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, and others are “stabilised” or reset between tenancies.
Khan is also considering ending “no fault” evictions and increasing minimum landlord-to-tenant notice periods to four months.
Caitlin Wilkinson, a policy manager at the campaign group Generation Rent, said: “London is one of the most expensive cities to be a renter on the planet. Soaring rents mean the basic necessity of a secure, safe home is out of reach for too many people. Londoners are being priced out of the neighbourhoods they grew up in or forced to leave the city altogether.”
The Conservatives’ mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, claimed rent control ideas had failed where they have been tried elsewhere, leading to higher rents and longer waiting lists.
He said: “This is a transparent attempt to distract from Sadiq Khan’s abysmal record on building the homes London needs. Despite being given £5bn from the government to build them, he has only delivered a tiny fraction of the new homes he promised.”