Rent freeze demanded in day of action by London Renters Union

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A union seeking rent controls in London is organising a day of action on 3 December.

The London Renters Union (LRU) says that rent in the capital has increased by up to 18 per cent, with many facing a hike of £3,000 per year.

The London Renters Union has been set up by a coalition of housing groups and social justice groups.The London Renters Union has been set up by a coalition of housing groups and social justice groups.
The London Renters Union has been set up by a coalition of housing groups and social justice groups. | London Renters Union

The union issued a statement saying: “On December 3, renters are fighting back. Renters across London will be taking action against the estate agents and landlords that are driving up rents and profiting from the crisis.”

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The London Renters Union has already organised with renters in Newham & Leytonstone, Hackney and Lewisham.

The London Renters Union has been set up by a coalition of housing groups and social justice groups.

The average rental in London hit a record £553 a week in September with nearly 30 applicants competing for each property. This is due to a lack of new properties coming on to the market in London, students returning to London after the Covid pandemic, and rising interest rates forcing some buyers to stay in rental accommodation, rather than purchasing properties.

Central London remains the most expensive area of the capital with rent up 30% year on year to a record £636 a week last month.

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According to research from the Joseph Rountree Foundation, one million households are paying rents they cannot afford. These are private renters who are on the bottom 40% of incomes and who spend more than 30% of their income on rents.

Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark, the membership body for property agents said: “The private rental market continues to be battered by the perfect storm of high demand, low availability and affordability issues that shows no sign of easing.

“Governments across the UK are all engaged in a tenant-focussed reform of their private rental sectors. They also need to consider the heavy tax burden on property owners, the impact of more profitable and less regulated short-term lets, many of which stand empty for part of the year, and the lack of new homes being built to cope with the varied needs of a growing population.”

One of the first organised rent strikes was in east London in 1889. A local activist, Charles Mowbray, started to develop a ‘No Rent Campaign’. He spoke at platforms in Victoria Park, and wrote leaflets on "the slow murder of the poor... poisoned by thousands in the foul, unhealthy slums, from which robber landlords exact monstrous rents".

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