Labour London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone writes about his campaign against poor private housing in London.
Yesterday I launched a new campaign targeted a group of Londoners who I believe have been overlooked for far too – those renting private accommodation in London. This is by no means an insignificant number of people.
697,000 London households currently rent in the private sector – which is almost a quarter of all households in the capital.
In the run up to next year’s election, I have been visiting boroughs across London and holding public meetings. Having currently visited 22 boroughs, I have heard some appalling experiences from those renting a room or a home in the private rented sector – a whole catalogue of housing horror stories.
From rip-off agency fees being charged for all manner of inconceivable and ridiculous reasons, through to rogue landlords hiking rent by hundreds of pounds at a moment’s notice – or turfing tenants out on to the street with no notice at all.
Then there’s the unsafe and insecure homes that too many Londoners find themselves living in – with rodent infestations and mouldy bathrooms, or broken locks and smashed windows going unrepaired.
It’s a dire situation which has only been made worse by the financial crisis and the chronic undersupply of homes in London. Of course, the best long-term solution to this problem is a large increase in the supply of new homes in London. But even if all the needed houses were to begin building tomorrow, timescales for construction would take years to complete – too long to help the hundreds of thousands of Londoners who need real help now.
When we consider that the average private rent for a two bedroom home in London is £1,360 per month – that’s £16,320 per year – and that these problems are so common, it’s clear that action must be taken.
Recent research from Shelter found that 26 of the 30 most expensive boroughs for private rents in the country are in London, and in 69 per cent of London boroughs, private rents for a two bedroom home are over 50 per cent of average take home pay, compared to only only six per cent of local authorities in the rest of country.
We rely on the next generation to keep coming to London and making this city their home. We need them to want to live in London, to keep our economy going. But for many of them, housing issues are making London too tough a place to live.
I am determined to stand up for the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Londoners living in the private rented sector. Too many people are being hit by high and rapidly rising rents, unfair fees, or accommodation which simply isn’t up to scratch.
Over the coming months, I will be setting out a plan to improve the private rented sector which will be shaped by the experiences of Londoners. Every Londoner deserves a decent home.
That’s why I’m urging people to get in touch with me and tell me about their experiences in London’s private rented sector, so that if elected I can take action to improve housing for all. I’m asking people to get in touch either on my website, on Facebook, or on Twitter using #housinghorrors to tell me about their experiences and help me tackle London’s growing housing crisis.
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• Housing will define the London Mayoral election – Steve Hilditch, September 12th 2011
• Why isn’t Boris coming up with any solutions to London’s housing crisis? – Jenny Jones AM, September 9th 2011
• Boris fighting London’s corner on housing benefit cuts? Really?! – Jenny Jones AM, July 5th 2011
• New poll highlights Boris’s failures as Mayor of London – Shelly Asquith, May 26th 2011