PROPOSED capping of private rents has nothing to do with reducing City of York Council’s housing benefit costs, but everything to do with Labour’s antipathy towards capitalism and private landlords.

Housing benefit is already restricted to a maximum payment for each property type, no matter what the rent is. Therefore rent controls would make no difference unless these were deliberately set below accepted benefit rates. But this is what it is all about: introducing new regulations to damage wicked landlords for the benefit of virtuous tenants.

It has already been tried and failed. Long before James Alexander was born, arbitrary rent controls were introduced which took no account of the cost of building or purchasing the houses in the first place; maintenance and repair; insurance and administration; or the losses suffered when tenants from hell failed to pay rent, trashed the house, stole the contents and disappeared leaving enormous unpaid bills.

The only thing achieved by rent capping would be to persuade existing and prospective providers of rented housing that this is not the business to be in.

Following regulations that have already persuaded so many builders to no longer construct new homes, the housing crisis would deteriorate from critical to catastrophic as a direct consequence.

Matthew Laverack, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York.