A staggering 41% of London renters think they're going to struggle to pay in the months ahead.
That's according to a new poll published this week by YouGov. The poll asked a number of questions about household finances, including how people are doing right now, and how they think their situation will be over the next six months. The results make for stark reading.
Renters under the cosh
41% of renters in London say that they will struggle to pay (the question is further broken down to reveal that 12% will "definitely" struggle while 29% will "probably" struggle). The picture with mortgages is also bleak, though not quite so severe, with 26% of households foreseeing problems.
Let's just say that again: 41% of renters think they definitely or probably won't be able to pay their rent. Imagine the consequences if this plays out as the poll suggests.
Other bills are also causing anxiety. 34% of Londoners (from any housing type) expect to struggle with shopping costs, with renters hit hardest (49%). It's a similar picture with energy bills, where 32% of Londoners (taken as a whole) expect to hit problems, rising to 59% among those who rent.
The online poll was conducted among 1,162 adults in London, and weighted to reflect all adult age groups.
Rents are rising fast
Bear in mind that this is averaged across all property types, so will include a fair number of large houses at the top end of the market. However, flats and studios make up the lion's share of that number.
A press release from the Mayor's office puts this figure into perspective. "This is £1,000 more than the average advertised rent in the South West, £1,300 more than in the East Midlands, and £1,564 more than in the North East... for £2,500, you could rent a six-bedroom Grade II family home in Birmingham with a sprawling garden or a five-bedroom houses in Liverpool with an electricity and gas allowance."
London's rental market is, for want of a better phrase, completely nuts right now. Not only are many renters facing huge hikes in monthly payment, but they're also in for a scrum if they want to find anywhere new. Demand is hugely outstripping supply. In many areas, you'll be lucky to get a viewing, let alone secure a tenancy. According to Rightmove, the most popular type of property is currently studio flats, for which there are four times as many seekers as there are flats available. It's a mess.
Time for a rent freeze
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has long argued for a rent freeze in the capital. At an emergency renting summit this week, he will once again call for a two-year halt to rental increases. "City Hall analysis shows a rent freeze in the capital over two years would save renters an average of £2,988. In the first year alone the saving would be £881 – money that could help families cope with the increases in energy prices we’ve seen this year."
He's also calling for new rules to double the notice period for evictions, from 2 months to 4 months, thereby allowing struggling renters more time to apply for help. Such measures are beyond the Mayor's powers and would require government intervention.
“Our demands to ministers are simple," says Khan. "Implement your long-promised renters reform legislation and take action now to make rents more affordable for Londoners, using all powers at the government’s disposal."
Both images by the author.