His latest outburst follows controversial claims earlier this month that he would legislate to allow renters to buy the property they are tenants of at a discount from private owners.
Speaking at the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton, McDonnell (pictured) set out his thoughts on a Utopian future for tenants that will, however, upset many investors in the buy-to-let sector, also pledging not just to reform the rental sector but to build a million new “affordable” homes.
He said: “We’ll end the barbaric roll-out of Universal Credit. We’ll cap rents and build a million new genuinely affordable homes, so young people, in particular, aren’t pouring away thousands of pounds from their wages to rip-off landlords.
“But work isn’t just about wages. It’s about freedom from drudgery; having dignity, respect and a voice in the workplace.”
Earlier this month the shadow chancellor caused uproar in the property investment community as he stated that buy-to-let landlords could be forced to sell tenants their rented properties at knockdown prices should Labour be voted into power.
He said the opposition party would make it easier for tenants to buy the homes they live in to tackle what he called the “burgeoning” buy-to-let market and would bring a radical “right to buy” scheme forcing the UK’s 2.6m landlords to sell their properties to expectant tenants at what he pledged would be “reasonable” prices.
David Cox, chief executive, at industry rental body ARLA Propertymark responded to McDonnell’s pledge to introduce rent caps to the UK market: “Rent controls do not work; it hits hardest those it’s designed to help the most. The last time rent controls existed in this country, the private rented sector (PRS) shrunk to the lowest levels ever recorded.
“At a time of demand for PRS homes massively outstripping supply, rent controls will cause the sector to shrink. In turn, this means professional landlords will only take the very best tenants, and the vulnerable and low-income people that rent controls are designed to help, will be forced into the hands of rogue and criminal operators, who may exploit them.”