Laura Sharman 04 October 2019

Rent caps needed to curb housing crisis, report says

A think tank has called for local leaders to have the power to cap rents in high-cost areas.

A new report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and One Manchester, calls for the rollout of Scottish-style ‘rental pressure zones’ to curb spiralling rents.

Looking specifically at the housing crisis in Manchester, the report found that house prices in Manchester have quadrupled in recent years, with 48% of millennial renters cutting back on basics like food and heating to pay for housing costs.

Making Home calls on Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to create new models and routes to homeownership, which could be rolled out across England.

This includes a special Housing Affordability Deal to give the combined authority the powers to invest in new developments and housing products and curb steep rent increases.

Hannah Webster, report author and senior researcher at the RSA, said: ‘We need to see new routes to let young people put down roots - including lowering the entry bar for shared ownership from 25% to just 1% and offering reduced rent to give room to save, would provide much more security than existing options, as well as a route to ownership.

‘There is a greater role for housing associations in providing rent-to-buy options and council-run lettings agencies need to be established which act on behalf of renters and not just landlords.

‘A new Greater Manchester housing devolution deal should give mayors and councils Scottish-style powers to cap runaway rents in areas like central Manchester. These "rent pressure zones" would help those facing steep rents in certain neighbourhoods, without taking the step of introducing rent controls across the board. In Greater Manchester we suggest that individual councils have the opportunity to propose and review potential zones.’

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