16 Feb 2022

The mayor of Labour-controlled Bristol council is teaming up with local anti-landlord activists to look at how to introduce local rent controls in the city.

At a so-called ‘summit’ on March 2, Mayor Marvin Rees will set out his goals to have more powers over landlords. 

He says: “The national housing crisis poses big challenges for our city and tackling it remains one of the council’s top priorities.

“As well as accelerating the building of affordable housing across Bristol, we are currently strengthening our powers to tackle rogue landlords, and we have invested £42m in improving the energy efficiency of our council homes.

“I made a manifesto commitment to campaign for the power to introduce rent controls to make Bristol an affordable living city, and we are calling on government to give us the power to regulate rents.

“Piloting rent control in Bristol will allow us to take a step towards tackling our local renting crisis and will help us develop learnings and that can inform wider positive change for the rest of the city.”

A statement from the council claims that the summit aims to start a conversation with the community about what rent control for Bristol could look like, reviewing examples of how it has proven to be effective in other countries.

Councillor Tom Renhard, the authority’s housing chief, adds: “Our city is facing a rent crisis. We have ever-increasing rents, no-fault evictions still in effect and demand exceeding supply. There are some homes that are not even fit for habitation in a private rented sector where tenants can struggle to enforce the few rights they have.

“Bristol rents are out of control and the renting system is not fair, stable or safe. Unaffordable private rents are deepening inequality, as people on lower incomes are at growing risk of homelessness and many are being forced out of the city.

“It’s time for a reset in the relationship and for the national government to give us the powers we need locally to properly regulate privately rented housing. We are asking renters across the city to join us to share their experiences, shape the discussion on enforcement and hear about different models of what a living rent for Bristol could look like if we had the power to introduce rent controls.”

The council claims that there are over 134,000 people currently renting privately in Bristol, representing almost one-third of the population. 

It says over the last decade, private rents in Bristol have increased by 52 per cent, while wages have only risen by 24 per cent, and on average Bristol residents now need to spend almost nine times their annual salary to buy a house.

The summit will take place on Wednesday 2 March between 6.30 and 8.30pm. Tickets can be booked online.

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