As the Mayoral election nears, London renters are demanding change

In just eight weeks, London will have a new Mayor. Will they have a plan to fix London’s renting crisis? Hopefully yes, if our campaign is successful.

Housing is already top of the agenda for the Mayoral contest. More than 1 in 4 Londoners are private renters and we’re working hard to make sure their demands are heard. How are we doing that? By building a mass movement of renters and giving them a platform to voice their concerns.

Too often, renting in London is unaffordable, unstable and unsafe. We’re keen to use the heat of the Mayoral Election to get candidates to make a commitment to fix renting in London once and for all. We’re asking them:

Will you help renters, especially when it comes to affordability, longer contracts and protection from bad conditions?

Our campaign is in full swing with thousands of supporters signing our petition. If you haven’t added your name to the petition yet, you can join it here.

However, this is about much more than just signatures, it’s a movement. We’re running street stalls and campaigner events across London, and will be attending hustings with our supporters. We want to hear and see London renters’ voices, opinions, experiences and stories, and make sure that politicians hear them too.

We kicked this off at the start of the campaign with our ‘One Change’ tool, which London renters used to tell us which aspects of renting they wanted to see fixed first. So far, over 1000 London renters have sent in their thoughts, and top priority for them is affordability (42% of participants said this was the one thing they wanted to see changed), next to protection from rogue landlords (17%).

An overwhelming number of renters also contacted us individually to tell us that they wanted to see more social housing built in London. Lots of people also specifically said they wanted to see high rents dealt with in some way – for example through a limit on the amount that rent can be increased year-on-year.

We’ve also launched a number of online tools to help renters voice their concerns around the three themes of the campaign: unaffordable, unstable and unsafe.

UNAFFORDABLE

Did you know that the average London renter has spent £89,000 on rent since 2010? Renters have been outraged by the results of our rent calculator, which tells you exactly how much you’ve spent on rent (and what it could have bought you by now).

Renters have been keen to tell us about the ridiculous letting agents’ fees they’ve been charged

We’ve started to compile a list, which features:

  • £400 to replace a broken fridge handle
  • £50 for an unchanged lightbulb
  • £120 for a “re-reference” when renewing a contract

If you’ve ever been charged for something outrageous, tell us.

UNSTABLE
When 6-month contracts are the norm, it’s not uncommon for us to hear stories like Mike’s (pictured below), a palliative care nurse who has lived in more than 10 homes over the past eight years.

blogmike

More than a third of London renters have moved three or more times in the past 5 years. This makes it impossible for people to put down roots and really feel like they have a home, which is especially tough for families.

If you’ve experienced short contracts and instability (or any other renting problem, for that matter), please share your story here, so we can make sure the Mayor sees it.

Every 21 seconds a household is made homeless in London. We know that eviction from a private rented home is a leading cause of homelessness, so making the private rented sector more stable is an essential step if we are to fix homelessness altogether.

UNSAFE

Londoners from across the capital have overwhelmed us with their scary renting photos, which have formed an ever-growing gallery (which is where we found the picture below from a rented home in London). We’ll be compiling all the submissions, along with Londoners’ stories, into a big book to deliver to the new Mayor of London.

blogmould

If you have a photo or story that you want to be included, please submit it here!

The solutions

It’s now time for politicians to stop paying lip-service to fixing private renting.

London’s 2.7 million renters are fed up of talk about affordable, decent and secure renting. We need a Mayor who isn’t afraid to demand the power they need to transform renting. With the right powers, a London Mayor could require longer tenancies and reduce the chronic churn which makes it impossible for renting families to put down roots. They could get tough on the landlords and agents operating across London, who help to make renting unaffordable and insecure.

By working with government to win new powers, the next Mayor of London will have a real opportunity to make a substantive difference to the lives of millions of renters in our capital.

For the next two months, we’ll continue to raise the voices of renters to make sure that they are heard.  There is no reason we can’t win these vital changes to the London’s private rented sector. 2016 is Shelter’s 50th year of campaigning and fixing renting is in our DNA: our very first campaign in 1966 tackled slum landlords in West London.  Since then, we’ve won numerous victories on renting, and we can win again, especially now politicians are finally listening.

So, if you think renting in London needs fixing, join us.

Tell us your thoughts on social housing, to get your voice heard at a national level

Want to take action? Help us be there for every person who needs us

Had a bad housing experience? Share your story, to help us campaign for real change