Rent regulation in England and Wales
Rent regulation in England and Wales is the part of English land law that creates rights and obligations for tenants and landlords. The main areas of regulation concern,
- the mechanisms for regulating prices (historically called "rent control"). Since the Housing Act 1980, prices are generally left for landlords to fix.
- the reasons that a person can be evicted. Since the Housing Act 1996, most tenancies can be terminated on their expiry for any reason.
- the obligations to repair and maintain the property under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.
In general, people renting homes or real property may agree with a landlord to any contract terms they like, but some rights and duties are made compulsory. Historically, the United Kingdom sought to ensure fair rents, prevent evictions without a fair reason, and placed obligations on landlords to properly maintain premises. Such regulation seeks to redress the inequality of bargaining power between landlords and tenants in a market where there is unlimited freedom of contract. Most rights for tenants were abolished by the Housing Act 1980 and in subsequent legislation through the 1980s. The remaining legislation is found in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, which gives rights to business tenants, and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 which gives some rights, although fewer, to people renting for the purpose of a home.
Before the 20th century, and during the industrial revolution, the regulation of the rental property relationship was largely left to the market. The first major regulation was introduced by the Rents and Mortgage Interest Restriction Act 1915, largely as a consequence of rent strikes in Glasgow.
- Marchant v Charters  1 WLR 1181, Lord Denning MR, a person has a lease when the occupant had a ‘stake in the room or did he have only permission for himself personally to occupy’ it?
- Johnson v Moreton  AC 37, 66, Lord Simon, noting the problem with rent was that ‘the constriction of the market and the inequality of bargaining power enabled the landlord to dictate contractual terms which did not necessarily operate to the general benefit of society’
- Bankway Properties Ltd v Pensfold-Dunsford  1 WLR 1369, Arden LJ, -
Right to repairs
Security of tenure
Security of tenure exists for business tenancies under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. It was abolished for most residential properties by the Housing Act 1988. However, it remains for some people who live in council houses.
Rental price controls
The Rent Act 1977 was the last piece of legislation in England and Wales to place limits on how much landlords could raise prices for residential homes. It was substantially repealed by the Housing Act 1988.
Regulators and Ombudsman
- R Arnott, ‘Time for Revisionism on Rent Control?’ (1995) 9(1) Journal of Economic Perspectives 99
- A Anas, ‘Rent Control with Matching Economies: A Model of European Housing Market Regulation’ (1997) 15(1) Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 111–37
- S Bright, "Avoiding Tenancy Legislation: Sham and Contracting Out Revisited"  CLJ 146
- S Bright, Landlord and Tenant Law in Context (2007)
- T Ellingsen and P Englund, 'Rent regulation: An introduction' (2003) 10 Swedish Economic Policy Review 3
- M Haffner, M Elsinga and J Hoekstra, 'Rent Regulation: The Balance between Private Landlords and Tenants in Six European Countries' (2008) 8(2) International Journal of Housing Policy 217
- H Lind, 'Rent Regulation: A Conceptual and Comparative Analysis' (2001) 1(1) International Journal of Housing Policy 41
- C Rapkin, The Private Rental Housing Market in New York City (1966)
- G Sternlieb, The Urban Housing Dilemma (1972)
- P Weitzman, 'Economics and Rent Regulation: A Call for a New Perspective' (1984-1985) 13 NYU Review of Legal and Social Change 975-988