Unions and Sadiq Khan join renters in public call for Michael Gove to freeze rents
- Trade unions, the Mayors of London, Greater Manchester, and Liverpool, the Green Party, think tanks and other organisations have joined London Renters Union (LRU) in calling for Michael Gove to freeze private rents.
- 1 in 2 private renters nationally are struggling with housing costs, with 4 in 5 London renters hit hard by unaffordable housing.
- Read the open letter here.
Thursday 23 February: Trade unions, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram, leaders of the Green party, think tanks and charities have signed an open letter calling on Michael Gove to implement a Scotland-style freeze on private rents and an eviction ban to tackle the current rental crisis.
As wages hit a near 20-year low forcing half a million workers to strike earlier this month, rents continue to skyrocket at record rates. 1 in 2 private renters nationally are struggling with housing costs, with the situation even more severe in London. LRU members reported average rent rises of £3400 (20.5%) in December, nearly double the 12% national figure.
Millions trapped in an unaffordable private rental sector are forced to cut back on essential spending or face the threat of homelessness. Evictions are on the rise, as landlords use no-fault section 21 to force out tenants unable to accept unaffordable rent rises, still legal despite the government’s 2019 promise to abolish the clause.
The NEU, RMT, CWU and UNISON are among the unions to throw their support behind the call, whose members are being squeezed by falling pay and rising housing costs. The open letter states that a temporary freeze on private rents is the best policy to address the scale and urgency of the current affordability crisis. The government must also abolish unfair evictions and introduce the long-overdue Renters Reform Bill to improve housing standards. The letter was also signed by Mayors and council leaders in Hackney, Newham, Brent and Wandsworth.
LRU launched a campaign in December calling for a rent freeze, after Scotland’s tenants union Living Rent won a similar commitment in Scotland. Public support to bring back rent regulations is mounting with the Mayor of London and other local authorities calling for devolved powers to introduce caps on unaffordable rent rises.
Kirsty, LRU Member, says: “As a teacher, my pay has not risen in line with inflation, and the 5% offer from the government does not cover rising rents and the cost of living. 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 the move 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.”
Bekah, LRU Member, says: “After refusing a £100 rent rise in our previous house, our landlord evicted us and listed the property for £300 more. We felt sad, angry and like a great injustice had happened to us, but it was all completely legal. We were forced to move to a significantly more expensive house and now we are facing a rent rise once again. We are already anxious about our food shop and energy prices, and this rent rise will only add further stress. I feel very precarious right now and a rent freeze would give me some peace of mind.”
Liam Miller, LRU 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.”
For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Press Officer
Notes to editors
London Renters Union is a membership organisation representing 6,400 renters across the city. It has branches in six boroughs: Brent, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lewisham, Haringey and Newham. LRU campaigned alongside others to successfully pressure the government to pledge to end Section 21 back in 2018. And played a key role in pressuring the government to ban evictions during the pandemic.
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