• Tuesday, December 06, 2022

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40 per cent of Londoners could default on their rent: Poll

The London mayor Sadiq Khan calls emergency private renting summit as as according to a new poll, 40 per cent of Londoners think they will struggle to meet rent payments in the next six months

London mayor Sadiq Khan (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

London mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday (14) said 40 per cent of Londoners think that they will struggle to meet their rent payments as he sought to bring together private renters, charities, advocacy groups, and politicians to call on the government to tackle the capital’s spiralling rental crisis urgently, a press release from the mayor’s office said.

He also said that the average advertised rent in London has hit £2,343 a month, more than double than in other parts of the country.

A new polling of Londoners conducted by YouGov found that 40 per cent of the city’s private renters are likely to struggle to make their rent payments over the next six months.

The city’s renters are facing several crises — from rising rents to insecure tenancies to unsafe homes. The mayor and leaders of the sector were set to join a call to action, requesting ministers to immediately implement long-promised renters reform registration to ensure security and safety for the renters and take action to make rents in London more affordable.

“The fact that 40 per cent of Londoners think that they will struggle to make their rent payments in the next six months shows the scale of the housing crisis in London,” Khan said, adding, “London’s private renters are facing a triple whammy with rising rents, bills, and the cost of household essentials putting a major strain on their finances. Ministers must take this crisis seriously and act now.”

A comparison of rental prices across the UK explains how serious the situation is in the capital.

According to Rightmove, the average advertised rent in London is £2,343 a month, which is £1,000 more than the average advertised rent in the South West; £1,300 more than in the East Midlands; and £1564 more than in the North East.

For example, for £2,500, you could rent a six-bedroom Grade II family home in Birmingham with a sprawling garden or a five-bedroom houses in Liverpool with an electricity and gas allowance

By paying £1,750 a month, you could rent a five-bedroom detached house in Wolverhampton, while in Burnley, a three-bedroom terrace house costs just £750 a month.

Meanwhile, for £454 less than the monthly average advertised rent in London, you could move to Cyprus and rent a five-bedroom villa with a sauna, private pool, and a two-car garage.

The average London tenant can expect to spend nearly 40 per cent of their income on renting a typical property and according to the latest figures, asking rents for new rentals in London is growing faster than anywhere else in the UK, up more than 16 per cent in the last year.

In this situation, Sadiq has repeatedly called on the government to urgently introduce a two-year rent freeze to ease the burden on renters as the cost-of-living crisis worsens.

Scotland has recently introduced such a freeze.

A City Hall analysis showed a rent freeze in the capital over two years would save renters an average of £2,988. In the first year alone, £881 could be saved and families could use that money to cope with the rise in energy prices seen this year.

Last May, more than 1.2 million Londoners re-elected Sadiq on a manifesto that expressly called for the introduction of rent-control powers. It is time ministers recognised his mandate for change and gave him the tools to carry out this vitally important work, the release said.

The government must also urgently double the notice periods for private rental evictions to four months to give tenants extra financial breathing space to access support and advice, pay arrears or save for a move before their tenancies conclude, it said, adding that the struggling private renters in London need more council and social rented housing; more homes for first-time buyers; a welfare system that reflects the high costs of renting in London; and fundamental reform of the private rented sector to rebalance it in favour of the renters.

The mayor said, “There is no time to waste so we have come together today to speak with one voice. Our demands to ministers are simple: implement your long-promised renters reform legislation and take action now to make rents more affordable for Londoners, using all powers at the government’s disposal.

“As we continue working to build a better, fairer London for everyone, it’s vital that we stand up for renters in our city and find common ground on the action that needs to be taken to support them through the cost of living crisis, pay their rent and keep their homes.”

Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said, “When rents are rising on new tenancies, no private renter is safe. It is too easy for your landlord to demand a higher rent when they know they can evict you and re-let to someone else who is willing to pay it. People who don’t want to move are being priced out of their homes and forced to compete in this hellish market. And the cost of living crisis is making it even worse.

“The government can alleviate rising living costs for renters immediately with a freeze on rents on existing tenancies and suspension of Section 21 evictions so landlords can’t evict simply to re-let at a higher rent.”

Jacky Peacock OBE, head of policy, Advice for Renters, said: “Private renters are among the hardest hit as the cost-of-living crisis deepens. Most are struggling to pay unaffordable rents for properties that are often in poor condition and hard to heat. They face the stark choice of huge energy bills or a cold home with all the health risks this entails. Renters were promised a reform of the sector in December 2019. Three years’ later, they are still waiting. The government really must take action now.”

Kiran Ramchandani, director of policy and external affairs, Crisis, said: “Across London, spiralling rents are leaving thousands priced out of private renting and struggling to find homes. Through our own services we’re seeing the difficult positions people are in as they face cutting back on food and energy to try and make their rent payments and how, if nothing is done, this will likely force them and many more into homelessness this winter.

“The solutions are simple – increasing housing benefit so it covers the cheapest third of rents will ensure that people can afford to keep their homes this winter. Alongside this, we need to see no-fault evictions banned for good so that no one is uprooted from their home without reason. Taking this decisive action will give people the security they need and head off a surge in homelessness that will have devastating consequences on people’s lives.”

The story of Kyron

Kyron and his girlfriend have been fighting a Section 21 eviction for the past few months. The flat they live in has had issues with disrepair and the landlord and letting agents have been in a tussle over responsibility for the flat. Kyron has found the experience understandably stressful and has been fighting the Section 21 because he believes the landlord hasn’t fulfilled his obligations and because of the high price of rental properties in London. As he lives in Hammersmith and also takes care of his grandmother who lives nearby, he doesn’t want to be forced to move miles away.

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