Last summer, a shortage of housing and increased demand saw cut-throat competition for properties and soaring rents – not just in London, but across the UK. In the year to January 2023, private rents across the UK have risen by 4.4%, the largest increase since official record-keeping began in 2016.
Renters’ advocacy groups report that individual rent increases of 20% and even more are common. And no-fault evictions under section 21 are still not outlawed – although the government has committed to doing do so in this parliament – so any tenant who refuses to pay is at real risk. Most people are already paying as much as they can afford. A 20% increase is effectively being handed an eviction notice.
Recent government figures show that nearly a quarter (24.1%) of private renters are in fuel poverty, compared to just 8.8% of owner-occupiers. Often, the problem is exacerbated by inadequate insulation – but pushing for the property to be ungraded, or even to meet minimum standards, again risks provoking a rent increase.
Indeed, in the face of mounting calls for a national rent freeze and for section 21 to finally be abolished, landlords may be looking to strike while they can. The LRU, JFT and other members of the Renters Reform Coalition are lobbying for immediate relief for private renters, with a national day of action planned.