Sadiq Khan calls for private rent freeze in London to tackle cost of living crisis
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The mayor wants to freeze private rents over the next two years, saying it will save tenants an average of £3,000.
This comes in the midst of the biggest cost of living crisis for more than 60 years, with energy bills set to skyrocket next month while petrol and food prices are already rising rapidly.
This has been further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
City Hall analysis, based on figures from the estate agent Savills, has estimated that a rent freeze would stop rises of on average £881 in the first year and around £2,100 in the second year.
Research from City Hall and YouGov previously estimated that a quarter of London’s 2.4 million privately renting adults had fallen behind on their rent, or said they were likely to do so, as a direct result of the pandemic.
This is the mayor’s second attempt to place controls on private rents in London, having pressed ministers on the issue in 2019 before he sought re-election.
“Private renters make up nearly a third of everyone living in the capital and they are set to be hit by a devastating combination of price and bill rises,” said Mr Khan.
“Too often the needs of private renters are ignored by both landlords and the government.
“Rising fuel and energy costs – which will hit renters in energy inefficient homes the hardest – are already causing anxiety and stress, with a big rise in the energy price cap due next month.
“That’s why today I’m calling on ministers to give me the powers to stop rents rising in the capital, and help me to give people a chance to get back on their feet after the pandemic.”
Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, said: “With the cost of living spiralling out of control, the mayor is right that renters need more protections from unaffordable rent hikes.
“It’s too easy for landlords to raise rent on tenants and it’s too difficult for renters to negotiate, or challenge a rent increase at a tribunal.
“Without intervention landlords can effectively evict their tenants by making their home too expensive for them to afford.
“The mayor needs powers to intervene for London’s millions of renters.”
A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We recognise people are facing pressures with the cost of living and we are offering support - including Discretionary Housing Payments, funding for renters in arrears and a £500 million Household Support Fund to help the most vulnerable in England.
“Recent evidence suggests that rent controls would discourage investment and lead to declining property standards, which would not help landlords or tenants.
“Our Private Rented Sector White Paper in the Spring will also set out reforms to make renting fairer for all, including banning ‘no fault’ evictions to protect tenants.”
Millions of households across London are bracing themselves for April when the cost of living crisis will deepen.
Energy bills are going to skyrocket from the start of the month, when the current price cap is lifted, while national insurance contributions are also set to rise.
Petrol prices and food costs are all already climbing steeply.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the country is going to experience the worst cost of living crisis for 60 years, and the Resolution Foundation believes nationally 2.5 million families will be plunged into fuel poverty.