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Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for new powers to impose rent controls in London

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for new powers designed to impose rent controls in the U.K.’s capital city.

In a report released Friday, Khan said there needed to be a “fundamental overhaul” of the private rented sector in London.

The mayor wants caps to be placed on existing rent levels, a “universal register of landlords” and a private rent commission which will set out how rents can be gradually reduced. Tenancy contracts could also be open-ended under the mayor’s plan.

The mayoral office has claimed that the cost of renting a one-bedroom flat is now more than the average of a three-bedroom house in every other area of England, also claiming that the case for rent control has become “overwhelming.”

The report also said that 40% of Londoners were now renting privately, compared to just 18% in 1990.

Khan, a member of the opposition Labour party, admitted that unlike other mayors around the world he had “no powers over the private rented sector” and any change would require the support of central government.

However, the proposal may fall at the first hurdle as U.K. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire, a member of the ruling Conservative Party, has previously stated he would oppose rent controls. And in a tweet Friday, Conservative Party member and Chair of the London Assembly Planning Committee Andrew Boff described the plan as “an attempt to distract from Khan’s dire track record on housing.”

Those against rent controls claim any increased cost to private landlords forces them to leave the sector, further diminishing supply and pushing up rents.

In Germany, Berlin’s local government is to freeze rental prices for five years, starting 2020. Lawmakers there pointed to a 129% rise in rent prices within a decade.

In New York and some other U.S. regions, rent controls also exist. For a tenant to qualify they must have been continuously living in an apartment since July 1, 1971.

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