The London Renters’ Union say that their members are facing an average rent increase of £3,378 per year – reckoned to be a 20.5 per cent rent rise – and they accuse large estate agencies of encouraging private landlords to make “gouging” rent increases.
The LRU says that some tenants in the private sector have been hit with rent increases of 50 per cent.
The London Renters Union, which has nearly 7,000 private tenant members, is working with the Greater Manchester Tenants Union to stage a national day of action on Saturday, December 3, to demand an immediate freeze on private rents.
“Pure gouging dwarfs inflation,” the LRU says. Inflation has recently hit 40-year highs of 11 per cent.
The Renters’ Union says that rising rents are driving homelessness to record highs.
“Before the pandemic, London rents rose three times faster than wages,” the LRU said in a statement today. “With the cost of living crisis, renters are now cutting back on essential spending. Many are forced to accept unjustifiably high rent increases for fear of ‘no-fault’ Section 21 eviction if they refuse.”
“No-fault” evictions, under which landlords do not need to provide any cause for ordering a tenant out of their property, have increased by 76 per cent in 2022 compared to the previous 12 months. In 2019, the Tory government made an election pledge to abolish Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. Three years later, nothing has been done to honor that commitment.
London’s residential lettings sector, meanwhile, is doing very well, thank you very much. Estate agents Foxtons recently reported a 25 per cent increase in their revenues. The company’s chief executive was paid £1.6 million.
“Landlords are exploiting the cost of living crisis as an excuse to hike rents well above incomes,” the LRU said.
The Scottish government introduced a freeze on rents in October, following a campaign from renters union Living Rent, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan has recently called for an immediate rent freeze in London on private rents. Many cities across Europe employ rent controls to cap the amount landlords can increase rent by.
The LRU quotes one of its members as saying, “My partner and I were forced out of our home when our landlord tried to put up the rent by £8,000 per year. Finding a new place was a real struggle and in the end we were forced to move in somewhere £200 more per month than before. I now have to work two jobs to make ends meet.
“The government is doing nothing to protect renters. Instead of prioritizing the profits of landlords and estate agents, the government must step in to protect renters with a rent freeze like in Scotland.”
Another LRU member said, “My housemates and I faced a £300 monthly increase, and the landlord refused to negotiate with us. When we asked why the rent was increasing so much, he just shrugged.
“Estate agents are deliberately causing these rent hikes by encouraging landlords to raise rents and encouraging bidding wars. A clean freeze would relieve pressure on millions of people this winter.”