NEW: Unions And Campaigners Call On Michael Gove To ‘freeze’ Rents

Council leaders, unions and renters’ groups have urged Housing Secretary Michael Gove to bring in an immediate rent freeze in a bid to prevent widespread homelessness.

In an open letter, the 34 groups and individuals – including London Renters Union, mayor of London Sadiq Khan, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, and Generation Rent – also called on him to implement a ban on evictions until the cost-of-living crisis is over and to fast track the much-delayed Renters Reform Bill, ending Section 21 evictions.

This would bring England in line with Scotland, which imposed a rent freeze and eviction ban last October.

They claim that landlords, with the encouragement of letting agents, are using the crisis as an opportunity to introduce rent hikes.

Struggling The letter says: “Some landlords will be struggling with increased mortgage costs, but many will not. Just under half of rental properties have a mortgage and most of those have ‘interest only’ mortgages.

“The vast majority of landlords have far greater financial resilience to weather the storm ahead, with the median annual income of landlords before their income from rent is taken into account at £55,415.”

London Renters Union is asking renters to ramp up the pressure by writing a letter to their MP backing the call as part of its #rentfreezenow campaign.

Sadiq Khan and council leaders in Bristol have been calling on Westminster to grant them powers to set rent controls in their own areas.

However, this is unlikely as only last week, housing minister Felicity Buchan told the Commons: “The government do not support the introduction of rent controls in the private rental sector.”

She said controls would “discourage investment, lead to declining property standards and may encourage illegal subletting”.

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