Demands for rent freeze intensify as major public figures join the call

Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham, Carla Denyer and Mick Lynch are among those to back the call

Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham, Carla Denyer and Mick Lynch

Major public figures have today issued a call for a freeze on private sector rents. They’ve signed an open letter calling for Michael Gove – the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – to freeze rents in the private sector as a measure to mitigate the current rental crisis.

The letter, coordinated by London Renters Union, has been singed by three Labour mayors – Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram. The Green Party of England and Wales’ co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay have added their support. And prominent trade union general secretaries Mick Lynch, Kevin Courtney and Dave Ward have also backed the call.

The letter calls for an immediate freeze on rents, a ban on evictions during the cost of living crisis and a commitment to legislate to stop landlords being able to issue no-fault evictions to their tenants.

According to London Renters Union, half of all renters nationally are struggling with their housing costs. Figures from December show that rents rose by 12.1% on average in the year to October 2022. London Renters Union has said the situation is even more extreme in London, claiming its members have reported increases of 21%. The number of people being evicted from privately rented homes is increasing, after the Covid related ban on evictions was lifted.

One member of London Renters Union, Kirsty, said: “As a teacher, my pay has not risen in line with inflation. After my last landlord tried to raise the rent, I had no choice but to move further away from work. I was soon signed off sick due to the stress of moving house and the increase to my commute. Now, only one year into our new tenancy, our landlord has asked for another £1200 in rent. I feel like I’m back to square one.”

In their letter to Michael Gove, the signatories have written: “Renters are among the worst affected by the cost of living crisis. Prior to this crisis, renters were already spending four to five times as much as owner-occupiers on housing. Yet landlords, with the encouragement of letting agents, are using this crisis as an opportunity to introduce rent hikes. In September 2022 alone, one million renters faced a rent increase.”

The Scottish Government has already implemented a rent freeze, and London Renters Union wants the Westminster Government to follow suit. In Scotland, rents will be frozen until at least March 2023. The union has been campaigning for a rent freeze since December 2022.

Speaking on why the union is campaigning for a rent freeze, Liam Miller, a London Renters Union spokesperson, says: “Millions are being squeezed by falling wages and rising rents. The government has the power to protect people from unaffordable rent rises, but it is choosing instead to preside over a wild west rental market that is punishing the people who kept the country going through the pandemic. A rent freeze now is the only way to address the scale and urgency of the crisis, and would represent a step towards a stronger housing system that meets everyone’s needs.”

London Renters Union is encouraging people to write to their MP asking them to back the call for an immediate rent freeze.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Header image credits: Katy Blackwood, World Economic Forum, Matthew Phillip Long, Steve Eason – All licensed under Creative Commons

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