Labour bails on calling for rent controls from national government, backing Keir instead of renters 

Following a Green Party proposal to call for the council to be given powers to use rent controls, Labour amended the motion to dodge committing to rent controls in the next General Election 

Tonight, Greens made a proposal supporting rent controls to a full council session. Despite supposedly supporting the idea of rent controls, Labour watered down the motion, bailing on previous commitments and avoiding calling on national parties to support rent controls at the next election. 

On average, tenants who rent alone in Brighton and Hove paying over a third of their wages on housing costs, compared to a UK average of 11.4% of the household incomes. Rent is continuing to spiral upwards, with landlords raising prices on both current and prospective renters. A recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that private renters have poverty rates of 34%, compared with 12% for owner-occupiers.  

Rent controls are powers granted to councils to be able to freeze rent prices at a cap, stopping them getting higher, and allowing councils to take action when they get too high. The Green motion to full council would have committed the council to using rent controls as soon as they have the powers to use them. In order to get those powers, the motion instructed the council will write to Westminster Leaders to compel them to support introducing rent controls and encourage all political parties to support rent controls in the next election.  

Labour amended the motion to support landlord licensing, despite Greens having initiated a landlord licensing scheme earlier in the year before the May local elections. Greens criticised Labour for saying they support renters, but falling short of demanding the powers to meaningfully deliver for renters. 

Housing Spokesperson and proposer of the motion Cllr Ellen Mcleay [she/her] said: 

“We have all heard on the doorstep that Brighton is getting increasingly more difficult to afford, and rent is a big factor in that. Lots of residents already paying absurdly high rents are worried about landlords potentially raising rents again in the coming months. The situation is getting worse and the need for rent controls is more urgent than ever – that is why we put this notice of motion to the council today. Labour’s amendment simply doesn’t go far enough to address the crisis at hand. 

“Rent controls are an essential tool that we need in our arsenal. Landlord licences are of course very necessary as well, which is why Greens initiated a landlord licensing scheme in this city. Labour says they’ll support renters but today they have dodged calls for the powers to freeze rents.   

 “By refusing to commit to calling on the national Labour Party to support rent controls, this Labour council demonstrates that they are backing Keir over renters. Labour said they would “demand devolved powers from government to introduce rent caps” in the May election manifesto – another broken promise.” 

Seconder of the proposal Cllr Raphael Hill [she/her or they/them] said:  

“The Labour Party has spent a lot of time talking about how mortgage price rises due to high interest rates are hitting homeowners. What is not being spoken about is that this will lead to even higher rents.  

“There is a real concern of a housing crash happening very soon, and we need powers to be able to protect renters. Those powers must come from national government, and quickly. 

“Unlike Labour, Greens are unequivocal; we need rent controls to bring down the price of rent, and we need them now.” 


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