Shelter urge caution when it comes to Corbyn rent control promises

In a blog on the Shelter website, Steve Akehurst argues, continue with Labour policy to place restrictions on rent inflation, fine; but dictating rents (as hinted at in Corbyn’s speech to the conference) could be counter-productive…
… setting the entire rent can cause big problems. And those problems come with big risks that could hurt the people Labour say they care about – those on low incomes.

We’ve looked at this in some detail over the years. There is no crystal clear picture. But the evidence, summarised in the table below, suggests that old fashioned controls – setting the rent, not just controlling the increase – would force a significant number of landlords to sell their home, as they could make more money that way…

The result? A nice little glut of properties for those in a position to buy. An even tougher life for low-income tenants.

The problem is… economics are about numbers, politics are about emotion. And – just as calling for higher rates of corporation tax makes Corbyn popular, even though evidence suggests the all-important take for the health service and other vital services will go down, not up – “rent control” is a phrase that appeals to the angry.