“PRIVATE RENTERS SPENDING 65 PER CENT OF TAKE-HOME PAY ON RENT” SAYS SHOCK REPORT
A shock report which says private renters in some London boroughs are spending 65 per cent of their take-home pay on rent has been launched by Greater London Assembly member Sian Berry.
She has launched a report “What are London renters thinking?” based on the results of her recent Big Renters Survey of London’s private tenants.
The report lays bare the scale of dissatisfaction among London’s renters, over a range of areas including rocketing rent costs, incomplete repairs, lost deposits and fear of losing their homes at the end of each annual contract.
It also reveals the appetite for an independent renter’s organisation to investigate bad landlords, provide a voice for renters and campaign for better standards.
Nine out of ten renters had experienced four or more serious problems during their time renting in London.
Across the south London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Lambeth, Southwark, Merton and Wandsworth, respondents to the survey said that on average they spent half of their take-home pay on rent.
In Merton and Wandsworth, respondents reported spending 65 per cent of their take-home pay on rent, the highest figure in London. In Croydon and Sutton, 48 per cent reported struggling to afford a rent increase in the last three years, the highest figure in London for this measure.
Lambeth and Southwark renters were the worst for complaints about repairs and maintenance not being carried out, with 81 per cent of respondents saying they had problems in this area, compared with a London-wide average of 71 per cent.
Across London, the most common problem with costs and contracts in the past three years was a rent increase they struggled to afford and seven in ten renters suffered from repairs and maintenance not being done.
Significantly, nearly six out of ten renters said they would be prepared to pay a small fee to join a London-wide organisation that helped them in these ways.
Sian Berry said: “As a renter in London for nearly 20 years, it’s important to me that I keep bringing the voices of London’s 2.3 million private renters into City Hall. “In this report I’m recommending that the Mayor stands up for London’s private renters and support them in standing up for themselves.
“The willingness of renters to pay a small fee to join a renters’ organisation is very significant, as it means such a group could become self-sustaining once it has been set up.
“The Mayor should look seriously at providing practical help such as office space and seed funding to help found an independent London-wide organisation to represent renters in our city.”
Among other recommendations, Sian’s report suggests more support at the London-wide level for renters, including a central information source with links to existing renter’s groups and council schemes. In addition to this, Sian calls for continued pressure from the Mayor to push the government to devolve more powers over housing to London.
During Mayor’s questions (October 16th) Sian Berry asked the Mayor: “Six out of ten renters told me that to join an independent London-wide renters’ organisation, they would be prepared to pay a small fee. This is something that you currently have the powers to do. It is an organisation that could become self-sustaining over time.
Would you consider providing perhaps start-up funds or perhaps practical support such as office space for an organisation like this?
Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London): I looked into some of the plans that people have considered for, for example, a renters’ union and I looked at the sort of things that a renters’ union would do: provide assistance and support to individual renters, stabilise and support local groups of private renters and establish a database that would include rogue landlords.
While I support many of the aims, I am not convinced that we should prioritise resources for setting up a new structure since many of the aims are done by others. Shelter, for instance, provides advice services. Generation Rent is organising a local renters’ group. Here at City Hall, my team is developing options for a database of rogue landlords. Unless I am persuaded that there is something to supplement, I am unclear what this money would go towards doing that is additional to what Shelter, Generation Rent and we are going to be doing.
Sian Berry AM: I am out of time, Mr Mayor, but I will just say that I hope you will agree to meet with some of these groups and think about how you might help them to expand, but I will leave it there, chairman. Thanks.
A copy of the report is available at: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/sian_berry_renter_survey_report_oct2016_final.pdf
An interactive map of results by GLA constituency area is available at: http://www.sianberry.london/big-renters-survey/results/ .
BOLD Reacting to Shelter’s report revealing that 73 per cent of Londoner’s homes do not meet a ‘Living Homes’ standards, London Assembly Member Sian Berry said:
“I welcome Shelter’s report because renting in London is in crisis and, as a renter in London for nearly 20 years, it’s important to bring the voices of London’s 2.3 million private renters into City Hall.
“Renters clearly need an organisation working on their behalf, listening to their issues and concerns and fighting for them to live in better conditions.
Sian Berry was elected as a Green member of the London Assembly in May 2016. She is a member of the GLA’s housing committee.