Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has written to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request powers to implement a two-year rent freeze to help prevent COVID-19 evictions.
This freeze would be introduced as an emergency measure. It would mean that private Landlords could reduce rents in London but not increase them.
Recent research from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and YouGov has revealed half a million London tenants are potentially facing eviction.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has commented: “More than ever, COVID-19 means that many of London’s private renters are facing a really uncertain future. More likely to be in lower-paid and insecure work, the end of the furlough scheme means even more renters in the capital are now at risk of pay cuts or losing their job.
“Yet at every stage of this pandemic, renters have been treated as an afterthought by the Government, with protection measures only ever rushed out at the last minute.
“This uncertainty is causing unnecessary anxiety and stress. I’m today calling on ministers to give me the powers to stop rents rising in the capital for as long as this virus is with us, to give London’s 2.2 million renters more financial security. If Berlin can freeze rents for five years, there’s no reason London shouldn’t be able to freeze rents for two years in these extraordinary times.
“Without an operational vaccine, the economic fallout of COVID-19 will continue for months into the future. A rent freeze is only one part of a package of measures renters urgently need from Government to ensure no one is forced out onto the streets as a result of this pandemic.”
Alicia Kennedy, Director at Generation Rent, comments: “Evictions have been paused, but that hasn’t stopped some London landlords from raising the rent, which can force a tenant to leave their home.
“At Generation Rent we’ve heard from tenants who have been hit with a rent increase after telling their landlord that their income has been affected by the pandemic. Unwanted moves can leave struggling tenants with nowhere else to go and contribute to the spread of coronavirus.
“With the economy in recession and coronavirus cases on the rise, landlords should not be permitted to raise rents and force a tenant into an unwanted move.
“We’re delighted that the Mayor has adopted Generation Rent’s proposal for a freeze on rents to ensure tenants are able to stay safely in their homes for the duration of this crisis.”
Timothy Douglas, Policy and Campaigns Manager, ARLA Propertymark, comments: “Government has provided protection to tenants through the stay on evictions and the job retention scheme, while landlords have fallen outside of government support.
“It is important to be proportionate to all involved in the sector – tenants, agents, and landlords – as the economy struggles to recover in this period.
“It is therefore vital that the situation is not worsened through any measures on landlords as a kneejerk reaction to the conditions created by Coronavirus.
“The vast majority of landlords are supporting good tenants to stay in their properties but a mandatory rent freeze would serve to deter investment in the private rented sector at exactly the time when more is being asked of landlords.”
Sadiq Khan has also asked for a wider package of support to renters, including:
- Tenant grants to help them stay in their homes and clear arrears.
- Expanding access to welfare, including scrapping the Benefit Cap uprating Local Housing Allowance to median market rents, and making additional discretionary housing payments to cover shortfalls and extending eligibility to all renters, including those not currently entitled.
- Scrapping Section 21 evictions, and restricting access to Section 8 evictions until the above welfare changes have been made.