DA congress: Rent control proposals rejected as 'attack on private property rights'

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The DA elects a new leader today.
The DA elects a new leader today.
  • Delegates at the DA's elective congress rejected a proposal to implement rent control policies in cities the party runs.
  • Several delegates described the proposal as an attack on private property rights.
  • The resolution was proposed by Martin Meyer, DA MPL in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and close ally of leadership hopeful Mbali Ntuli

A proposal to control rental prices in DA-run cities was thrown in the dustbin at the party's congress, where it was described as "so far to the left, not even the ANC or EFF ever proposed it".

Several other delegates said the proposal was an attack on property rights that could kill end up killing the sector.

On Sunday morning, delegates at the conference voted against it and the party was asked to flesh out social housing plans instead.

READ | DA rejects proposal to limit leaders serving no more than two full terms

Martin Meyer, DA MPL in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, proposed the resolution, saying that the DA recognised that cities were still plagued by the impact of apartheid spatial planning.

"Rent of properties close to economic opportunities [is] increasing at an alarming rate and this, combined with gentrification, is making it very hard for people to be able to live close to these economic opportunities," his proposal read.

Meyer proposed that in DA-run metro governments, rental for City-owned residential property should not increase by more than the property inflation rate.

The resolution also noted that 23% of South Africans spend between 11% and 20% of their income on transport, and that rental increases and gentrification made it harder for working class families to live closer to economic opportunities in the metros.

But there was fierce opposition to the proposal.

ALSO READ | DA congress: Mbali Ntuli's bruising loss on day one sets the scene for the voter announcement

DA MP Dean Macpherson said price control was illegal in terms of the Competition Act and therefore could not be entertained.

He said: 

This proposal is so far to the left that not even the ANC or EFF have ever proposed rent control. We also cannot destroy investment in the property sector, by capping people’s returns. If your rent is linked to inflation, what if inflation is 10% or 20%...does it mean property owners can increase rent by that amount. What we cannot do is prescribe to our DA government what policies they should implement.

DA MP Jan de Villiers added that rent control was destructive.

"It reduces the quantity and quality of houses available. In short, it creates artificial demand by freezing rentals, but it will kill supply as property developers are discouraged to develop. The result is the victimisation of property owners. It is an attack on private property rights," he said.

Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers said the conundrum of adequate housing could not be addressed by such a simplistic resolution.

Delegate Carl Steenkamp added: "The proposal will create artificial rental demand and undermine property rights."

In the early morning session, delegates also affirmed several policies on job opportunities, crime, tax relief to citizens and cutting back on government expenditure.

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