Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Almost nobody in the UK is opposed to rent controls for housing

Most people want legal controls on rent, with support particularly strong in London

Jon Stone
Saturday 03 January 2015 17:50 GMT
Houses on residential streets in Muswell Hill, north London
Houses on residential streets in Muswell Hill, north London (PA)

There is overwhelming political support in the UK for the introduction of legal rent controls on privately rented housing, new opinion research has found.

According to the survey conducted by the pollster Survation, fewer than 10% of British people are against mandatory legal limits on housing rents.

A combined total of only 6.8 per cent of the public told the pollsters they were either “somewhat” or “strongly” against rent control.

Meanwhile, 59 per cent of those polled said they either somewhat or strongly supported the state putting its foot down on what landlords could take from tenants each month. 34 per cent of those polled had no opinion.

The support for tough action on landlords was even starker in London, where privately rented housing is becoming the norm among the young and increasing numbers of people are unable to afford to buy a house. In the capital, 64.5 per cent said they supported rent controls.

The nationwide figure rose even higher, to 77 per cent, for people who actually lived in private rented housing.

Despite the huge support for state intervention, political parties have been reticent to introduce controls. The Conservatives, Ukip, and Liberal Democrats do not advocate rent controls, while the Labour party has pledged only to limit the speed of future rises rather than impose caps or help bring rents down.

The Green Party supports rent controls, having passed an emergency motion in support of the policy in 2013. Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson has long called for their introduction in London.

“We give our tenants some of the weakest protections in Europe, we should copy the smart rent controls and security enjoyed by tenants in countries like France and Germany where rent can’t rise faster than inflation guaranteeing fairness and predictability for tenants and landlords,” he argued two years ago.

“We cannot go on pricing low paid workers out of swathes of London, it’s hurting our economy and the aspirations of a priced out generation.”

Margaret Thatcher, who scrapped Britain's previous system of rent controls in 1988. (Getty)

Labour’s London mayoral hopeful Diane Abbott recently called for the introduction of a rent control system in which landlords are charged a levy for every pound they charge above a fair rent. The proceeds from the levy would go towards building affordable housing and would also aim to discourage landlords from overcharging.

Before free market reforms introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the Housing Act 1988, local authority rent officers had the ability to negotiate significantly lower rents for private tenants.

The poll was scientifically sampled in order to make it representative of the general population; it was commissioned by campaign group Generation Rent.

Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules and regulations.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in