Whether you’re for or against measures to control private sector rents, it’s going to be worth watching closely what happens to new legislation in Ireland.
After a long row between the Irish coalition partners, the government has finally agreed a package of measures designed to give ‘rent certainty’ to tenants until supply increases. The package includes:
- For the next four years, landlords will only be allowed to increase their rents once every 24 months rather than 12 months as at present
- Landlords will have to give 90 days notice of any increase (up from 28)
- Landlords will have to provide evidence that any future increases are in line with the local market rate and inform tenants of their legal right to challenge them
- Tenants will have stronger protection against unscrupulous landlords who falsely declare they need to sell the home or move in a family member: landlords will have to sign a statutory declaration and face fines if it is invalid
- Landlords who house tenants on social security will get 100% mortgage tax relief against their rent (up from 75%).
Note that ‘rent certainty’ is not the same thing as rent control. What’s interesting about the package from this side of the Irish Sea is that it anticipates – and goes beyond – all of the points raised in the growing debate on rent regulation here. The Scottish Government is dipping its toe in the water with a Bill that will allow local rent control in rent pressure areas while Labour will call for new powers to freeze rents in London if Sadiq Khan wins next year’s mayoral election.
Originally posted on September 2 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
Rent control and increased security of tenure are back on the government agenda for the private rented sector for the first time in 30 years.
I am of course talking about the Scottish Government, which yesterday confirmed plans for a Private Tenancies Bill as part of its Programme for Scotland 2015/16. The Bill will ‘provide more predictable rents and protection for tenants against excessive rent increases, including the ability to introduce local rent controls for rent pressure areas’.
And it will introduce a Scottish Private Rented Tenancy to replace the current assured system and remove the ‘no-fault’ ground for repossession. That means the landlord will no longer be able to ask a tenant to leave just because the fixed term has ended but there will be ‘comprehensive and robust grounds for repossession that will allow landlords to regain possession in specified circumstances’.
An idea that was supposedly buried a generation ago is rising rapidly up the housing policy agenda.
Last year saw modest proposals by Labour for rent regulation within three-year tenancies in the private rented sector. Now there are calls for something that goes much further.
The conjunction of two news items last Friday put the issue into sharp relief. The first was an opinion poll for the private tenants campaign Generation Rent that asked ‘would you support or oppose proposals for the government to introduce a “rent control” system in the UK’. The result was 59 per cent to support, 6.8 per cent to oppose and 34 per cent with no opinion. Levels of support rose to 77 per cent among private renters, 69 per cent of Labour voters and 64.5 per cent of Londoners. However, rent control also had the support of a majority of Conservatives (55 per cent) and homeowners (56 per cent).