NRLA responds to Tory MP calling for two-year rent freeze in the PRS

Natalie Elphicke

Following a call by the Conservative MP, Natalie Elphicke, for a two-year rent freeze in the PRS, the National Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) has written to her to challenge a number of the points that she has made.

Elphicke penned an article last week, which has been published on the Conservative Home website. It calls for the “freezing all rents at their current rates for up to two years”.

In addition, she wants to see no property re-let at a higher price during that period. “This would ensure that the rent freeze cannot be circumvented by re-letting.”

Elphicke claims this would save around £2,000 for the average renter, and up to £4,000 in London.

She continued: “While landlords would, no doubt, protest, this would not be so problematic for landlords as might first appear. It is not landlords who are facing paying for the extraordinary energy rises in the homes they let out, but their tenants. Buy-to-let finance costs are still low, with two-year fixed rates available at less than 2.5 per cent.

“So, there is, and has been, no justification for the excessive rent hikes in recent times. Rents don’t reflect the costs of being a landlord. Rent levels are simply opportunistic and a result of lack of effective policy oversight in that market for far too many years.

“Indeed, controlling inflation will help keep interest rates lower for everyone as well as stabilise the value of housing. Extended inflationary spikes eat away at the value of all capital assets, including housing. High levels of repossessions and evictions put negative pressure on house prices. Early action to control rent rises is in the interests of landlords as well as tenants.

“The measures to freeze rents will help the public finances too. Of the nine million renters, 5.8 million tenanted households receive housing welfare support. Spending on housing welfare in 2021/22 is forecast to be over £30 billion. These measures could help to save billions on the benefits bill.”

In response to Elphicke’s piece, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA wrote this open letter to her:


Dear Ms Elphicke,

I write following your recent article for Conservative Home, “Keeping people in their homes during harder times must be a top priority” in which you make a call for a freeze on private rents for two years.

Within your article you rightly raise concerns about the impact of increasing inflation on households. However, as you will know the Office for National Statistics1 shows that in the 12 months to July this year private rents across the UK rose by 3.2% well below all measurements of inflation. In London, an area you refer to in your article, they increased by 2.1%, the lowest annual growth of any region in the UK in the year to July.

In your article you make the assertion that: “It has been suggested that faster rising rents in London have fuelled 1.5 per cent higher inflation in the Capital.” The evidence cited for this is an analysis by City Hall drawing on data from Rightmove.

As the Office for National Statistics notes, Rightmove’s data covers only asking rents on newly available properties, not the actual rents being paid on all properties. In contrast, the official ONS data reflects price changes for all privately rented properties. In view of this, I am sure that you would agree that the ONS index is a more comprehensive assessment of changes in PRS rents across the sector as a whole.

One of your central arguments is a call for a two-year rent freeze in the private rented sector. I should be grateful if you could outline how this would help address the supply crisis that tenants now face.

Research for the NRLA has found that in Q2 2022, 23% of private landlords in England and Wales said they planned to cut the number of properties they let over the next 12 months. This was up from 20% the year before. In contrast, just 14% said they planned to increase the number of properties they let, unchanged since the same point last year and down 4 points since Q1 2022.

Against this picture of falling supply, 60% of landlords reported increased demand for rental housing in the second quarter of the year. This represents a large increase on the 39% of landlords who reported increased demand a year ago.

This is a trend which has been charted also by:

+ Rightmove – Its latest figures show that in Q2 2022 the demand for private rented housing was up 6% compared with last year whilst the number of available properties was down 26%4

+ RICS – It has warned that rising demand from tenants for rental properties, coupled with a decline in new landlord instructions, will lead to rents increasing5.

+ District Councils Network – Research by the DCN has found that 76% of councils surveyed have seen an increase in private landlords selling up properties causing a rise in housing waiting lists and making it harder to find permanent accommodation for those in need. 48% of these councils said they were now experiencing significant pressure on housing services due to this. In particular, councils raised concerns about the drift of private landlords from the longer-term rental market to short-term holiday let accommodation.

+ The Government – Government data shows that the number of landlords planning to sell some
or all of their properties is twice as high as the number planning to purchase properties. Ac-
cording to the 2021 English Private Landlord Survey, 11% of landlords, representing 15% of
tenancies, planned to increase the size of their portfolio. In contrast, 22%, representing 29% of
tenancies, plan to sell some or all of their portfolio.

I note that in Ireland, which has a form of rent control in operation known as Rent Pressure Zones,
the leading property website, has noted that rental prices hit an all-time high in August, with
supply at its lowest level since the website started tracking in 2006. It noted that in a country of 5.1
million people, there were just 716 homes available to rent on 1st August8.

Given the public interest in this issue I shall be publishing a copy of this letter on the NRLA’s website
and sending a copy to the trade press.

I would be happy to discuss these points with you.

Ben Beadle
Chief Executive





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  1. Will2

    This just goes to confirm to landlords that we have a deeply anti-landlord conservative party.  One who prefer to not attack the problem at source but punish those who are small businesses and in many many cases a person with an income  from a single property part of their pension plan.  This is all being suggested at the point where the conservative party will not use a windfall tax on energy companies let alone suggest they hold all their prices at the current level, as she wishes to force on landlords.  Having just had a council tax bill I note that the Greater London Authority grab of the council tax INCREASED BY 8.8% over last years grab. What would the great Rene Artois from allo allo say “You stupid women” even the suggestion that has been made will severely impact on the confidence within the sector when we already have more than 25% of landlords selling up due to Government interventions. If this is the level of thinking coming from the conservative party we are all doomed; they demonstrate an unbelievable stupidity and lack of understanding of the housing market.  Not only will some landlords sell but many others who might have invested will look elsewhere to make investments knowing that even a Conservative Party want to wreck your potential investment. Worse affected – tenants as it will increase the risk of landlords fleeing from the market and availability of rented accommodation will plummet even further.

  2. undercover agent

    An attack on Landlords is an attack on Tenants. Some Landlords will read Natalie’s comments and choose to invest their resources elsewhere, providing less accommodation and choice for Tenants. Other Landlords will decide to increase rents now, to get ahead of Natalie’s new rent freeze.


    This lady clearly doesn’t understand economics, or does, but wants Tenants to suffer. Either way, she shouldn’t be in any position of power ever. Her Marxist ideas that (for reasons she is unclear about) Tenants are more virtuous and more deserving than Landlords and by putting more money in the hands of Tenants and out of the hands of Landlords, everyone, or at least the Tenants, will be better off, is just wrong. Her policies will hurt everyone, especially the Tenants she pretends to fight for.


    I suspect she doesn’t care about Tenants at all, she just hates Landlords and wants to see Landlords suffer, no matter what the consequences.



  3. jeremy1960


  4. Otro

    It would be great if she could point to the 2 yr BTL fixed at less than 2.5%!?!?!

  5. northernlandlord

    Typically wordy response from the NRLA. The Government know everything in the NRLA letter already but have chosen to ignore facts.  Despite evidence to the contrary it has suited the Government to vilify landlords as being greedy opportunists. If it wasn’t for landlords buying up all the houses and driving the prices up everybody would own their own place. Plus it is implied that if landlords didn’t charge such high rents there would not be a cost of living crisis and so on ad infinitum.  So if there is a rent freeze the landlords being rich can afford it and it would be seen as a triumph for tenants’ rights and a potential vote winner. Best of all it would cost the Government nothing.
    As for the NRLA they need to grow a pair. I gave up on them a few years back when they put the subs up, as all they ever seemed to do was roll over and do a bit of hand wringing in the face of Government regulation, tell me to “delight my tenants” clear my gutters for winter and try to sell me stuff. We do need an organisation that tells the Government straight what the consequences of their actions will be.
    According to the latest Government report for England the PRS accounts for 4.4 million households. We know that the supply of rental homes is drying up. Now if just 20% of PRS landlords sell up that will be about 800,000 homes lost. These homes won’t be snapped up by tenants as most can’t afford to buy. According to the ONS there are about 3.3 people per household, so there will be about 2.6 million people to rehome. Of course when this happens, the Government will blame this on landlords cynically abandoning tenants to cash in on the value of their property. Once again the Government know this and will be seeking ways to stop the landlord exodus. This is why selling up is not going to be a mandatory ground for eviction once section 21 goes .You certainly won’t be able to stick a “for sale” sign up and evict your tenants just like that. There will be all sorts of barriers in your way, you will probably have to go to court and pay the tenants compensation and moving expenses. The sale could also be blocked if you cannot demonstrate sound reasons for why you have to sell your own property (presumably, because I want the money might not be a good enough reason). Couldn’t happen? Already has in Scotland.    

  6. lettingsneg

    Very phicke indeed. 

  7. Burn red tape

    OK lets try her suggestion, in return for all MP;s and civil servants agreeing……… For very £1 wasted on Government scemes in the next two years this money is deducted from their earnings, however made. Imagine, not one MP left before two years are up ending the madness they introduce into society. I can see an enpty chmaber as they all leave Imagine, not one MP left before two years are up ednding the madness they introduce into society. Reflect on past mad decisions to solve societies problems Ted Heaths ‘Fair Rent Act’ George Browns ‘Prices and Incomes Board’ Then John Prescotts ‘The Supporting Peoples Partnership
    Where these people of sound mind?  How many millions were lost on these crazy schems?

  8. Woodentop

    Let me get this right …….. those within the industry are saying its not true that rent hikes have not been opportunist and many are justifiable.


    While some landlords and agents have been responsible, it is not the case across the board. You are telling me that no-one has raised an eyebrow on some of the hikes.

    1. undercover agent

      What we are saying Woodentop, is that prices ration resources. Mess with the price function at your peril, especially if it’s under the misguided apprehension that you’re being “nice”. There is nothing nice about wasting resources and making society less efficent. That’s just wasteful and you should be against waste.

      It leads to less investment in things that the world needs more of. It leads to people over using things that should be preserved. It ends badly.

      Prices guiding the invisible hand of the market making everyone better off (including the customers, aka tenants) is a miracle. People should be in awe of how amazing it is, but they are ungrateful and take it for granted, thinking they can do better than the wisdom of crowds with their intellectual heads and so-called expert knowledge.

      Wasteful: is having single people living in five bedroom houses while families crowd into bedsits. Wasteful is having people invest in one more microbrewery, when we are swimming in beer, instead of one more house, when we need houses more than ever.

      When you remove the pricing incentives, you remove the efficiency. Profit is the price society pays for efficiency, and it is a price worth paying. But if you don’t agree, you are free to move to a socialist country. Do let us know how you get on.


    2. A W

      1. Many tenants negotiated good rents during Covid and those tenancies are coming up for renewal. Their rent increases are higher than the norm yes, but still lower than current market rates.
      2. I personally have not seen one tenancy renew for higher than inflation this year.

  9. MickRoberts

    My notes on this.


    They doing it again. Look what happened in Covid calling for Rent Holiday & no evictions etc.

    We people that actually rent houses out, knew Landlords would be selling in their droves when they could after hearing stuff like this & tenants would then be worse off-And that’s what happened.

    Remaining Landlords now have mega demand & can charge what they like.


    These people in power who change sensibility make it better for that current tenant temporarily, but the next 100,000 looking for a house or move cannot do so, as no Landlord takes them or if they can, super expensive rents. It’s getting a case where only the well paid can afford to rent. All Govt & Council & Shelter & Generation Rent making.


    Shelter will applaud this & say it is working-As above for the current tenant. I’d say it works more for the Landlord & Letting Agent that slugs it out, as when the freeze or ban over, we all know rents shoot up massively as more demand comes. Letting Agents are loving the higher commission from higher rents. And why shouldn’t they.

    And us Landlords then end up taking it out of the innocent tenants by increasing the rents at every opportunity as we just don’t know when the next attack is coming. And we think we got a rent freeze coming again, we think Gees, best get some higher rent in now even though I was happy to leave at that existing rent to keep tenant happy.


    And before Generation rent shoot me down, I want rents to reduce so my tenants can have a choice to move, so I can sell my ruddy houses

  10. AcornsRNuts

    If anyone finds any marbles, please return to Natalie Elphicke C/O Shelter.


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