Housing crisis: We demand rent controls!

Housing crisis

We demand:

  • Rent controls now
  • A massive council house building programme
  • Nationalise the banks and giant construction companies

There is a severe crisis in housing. Low pay and sky-high rents mean that private renters spend over half their income paying the rent. For many young people buying a house, or even leaving their parents’ home, is an impossible dream.

Insufficient council housing and inflated house prices force people looking for somewhere to live into private rented accommodation. But just 39% of all new homes built in London in 2013 were bought to live in. The other 61% were bought by investors wanting to rent to tenants. Private landlords make a pretty penny out of this.


The campaign group Generation Rent calculate that landlords, who house nearly five million households in Britain, earn £77 billion a year – £42 billion in rising rents and £35 billion in rising house prices.

Landlords pay £8 billion a year in tax but get subsidies from the taxpayer of nearly £27 billion a year. That’s £1,000 for every household in the country! Over £9 billion of housing benefit goes directly to landlords.

But why is there no outcry from parliament condemning this rip-off? Perhaps the silence is because 25% of Tory MPs, 15% of Lib Dem MPs and 13% of Labour MPs own properties that they rent out.

In some areas, 70% of privately rented homes don’t meet the government’s decent homes standard. A BBC Panorama programme on 20 April showed some glaring examples of ‘rogue landlords’ in London. One landlord was getting £12,000 a month in housing benefit for one property before the council closed it down for unsafe electrics and evacuated the tenants.

But fines chased by local councils are described as ‘pathetically small’ and the landlord can keep claiming the housing benefit. The press blame low-income tenants for big benefit bills, but the real gainers are private landlords.

We want a socialist solution. We demand rent control now! Democratic rent councils should decide fair rents in every area and stop landlords overcharging tenants.

Scarcity of affordable housing is an ideal environment for bad landlords. Councils in England are sitting on enough brownfield land to build a million decent council homes. The ‘big four’ property developers are sitting on enough land to immediately build 1.4 million homes.

Why shouldn’t that land and the construction industry’s biggest vultures be nationalised? We could then carry out a mass programme of council house building and renovation to tackle the shortages with good quality housing at low rents.

Brian Debus (TUSC parliamentary candidate Hackney South & Shoreditch) and Roger Shrives