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London MP demands action as four in five Londoners struggle to afford their rent


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n MP has demanded government action after “alarming” figures revealed four in five tenants in London are battling to afford their rent.

Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Catherine West said the stark data chimed with the struggles faced by her constituents.

A poll of 1,000 tenants in the capital by housing provider Dolphin Living showed that inflation had made housing costs unaffordable for 28 per cent.

A further 52 per cent reported a significant impact on their ability to pay rent, with just 20 per cent saying they were able to manage or had seen no change.

“These findings are alarming but sadly not surprising,” said West. “They reflect what I’m seeing in my inbox with people being hit by unaffordable rent rises of hundreds of pounds a month, and increasingly pushed out with Section 21 no-fault eviction notices if they complain or fail to pay up.”

It emerged this month that average rents had soared by more than 30 per cent in a year in some parts of the capital.

The Dolphin survey, conducted in October, found that more than a third of tenants in the capital were spending at least half of their take-home pay on rent.

A third of those who indicated that inflation had impacted their ability to afford rent had taken on extra work. More than a quarter had borrowed money from either an institution, family or friends.

In excess of one in 10 tenants affected by inflation had delayed rent payments.

‘Unrelenting pressure’

Dolphin Living chief executive Olivia Harris said the cost of tenancy was “undeniably the most unrelenting pressure in London”.

“We need policy makers to step up and address an issue that is affecting many of us, particularly London’s critical workers who are disproportionally affected by rising housing costs,” she said.

“These workers went above and beyond to help us survive the pandemic and now it is our turn to support them by building more affordable rental homes in the city.”

Dan Wilson Craw, deputy director at campaign body Generation Rent, said the market was “unbearable” for tenants on low-to-middle incomes in the capital,

“Rents have been soaring in the past year and even if you’re not looking to move, you could still be hit by a sudden, unaffordable rent increase,” he warned.

“If your income hasn’t been rising, it is becoming ever harder to afford to live near your workplace. The danger for London is that there are jobs for key workers all over the country, so teachers, health workers and others will be increasingly tempted to move cities entirely, leading to even more pressure on our public services.

“We need much greater efforts from government to build homes where they’re needed, restrictions on landlords from imposing unaffordable rent hikes, and to devolve powers to the Mayor of London to control rents.”

‘Priced out’

London Renters Union campaigns officer Siobhan Donnachie called for an immediate ban on rent increases.

“It’s unfair that the people who kept London going during the pandemic are being priced out,” she said.

“We need to bring rents under control to keep key workers in the city and prevent further strain on essential services.

“Rent regulations have the power to address the urgency and scale of our current rental crisis, delivering greater affordability for millions of renters both now and in the future.”

Ms Harris called for more homes to be made available at discounted rent levels.

“Intermediate rental housing could play a crucial role in the stemming of the crisis,” she said. “It offers an alternative rental choice for households with a modest income, providing secure, affordable, good quality and well managed homes at below-market rent.

“We hope the government realises that the delivery of discounted rental housing in high value areas needs to be prioritised though an investment package to either build new supply or convert existing stock to homes for Londoners.”

‘Housing market is broken’

Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Catherine West

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Ms West said: “It’s almost four years since the government promised to introduce rental reform yet still, we’re waiting and private tenants are living with insecurity, sky high rents and, all too often, poor conditions.

“Our housing market is broken. London can’t function if critical workers can’t afford to live here and that will only happen with more of the genuinely affordable council housing we so desperately need – and rental reform.”

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Ministers published plans to ban so-called “no fault” Section 21 evicitons last summer but the legislation has not yet been passed.

A government spokesperson said today: “We are providing significant support to help people through these tough times by holding down energy bills and delivering up to £1,350 in direct cash payments to millions of vulnerable households.

“Ensuring a fair deal for renters remains a priority for the government, that’s why we will deliver on our commitment to abolish Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.”

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