Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour Candidate for Clapham & Brixton Hill
From Clapham & Brixton Hill, For Clapham & Brixton Hill

Please note: Parliament has now been dissolved until after the General Election, meaning I am no longer an MP.

Renting is Broken. We Need to Fix it and Give Renters the Security They Deserve

Jan 19, 2024 | Articles

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For rent signs along a road outside a row of houses.

Work hard, save up, buy a house. That was always the deal. But for most people in the UK, let alone London, the dream of homeownership has become precisely that: a dream. From 1971-2015, the cost of buying a house has increased by 43.6 times. If the average wage had risen in this way, it would be around £34.85 an hour. An average London home now costs 14 times the typical London household income. As scraping together a deposit becomes harder and harder, most of us living in London are paying someone else’s mortgage rather than our own. 

Renters were hit especially hard by the pandemic with those furloughed paying 100% of their rent whilst losing 20% of their income. Whilst workers were denounced as greedy for striking for inflation-matching pay rises, landlords continued to collect above-inflation rent increases. The cost of renting in London has soared by 31% since 2021 alone. 

And raising widespread issues of disrepair, damp, or mould in a rental property still raises the risk of a no-fault eviction. As renters buckle, the Tories have bottled it, kicking the can on their five-year-old promise to stop landlords using these unfair evictions to move people on. The worst thing about the ongoing delay is that dangling the prospect of a ban has only encouraged landlords to kick more people out of their homes while they can: almost 300 a week in London, with UK court proceedings up by 38% in a year. 

The next Labour government has the opportunity to tackle this affordability crisis and offer renters genuine security by building a fairer regulatory system. This can begin with a no loopholes ban on no-fault evictions, which limits in-tenancy rent rises and provides proper funding for local authorities to act against rogue landlords exploiting our broken housing system. We should also heed calls from regional and local authorities for powers to freeze rents and levy taxes on empty homes to get these back into circulation. 

Above all, we need to ensure that rental costs are not rising faster than pay packets. After both World Wars, governments of differing political persuasions recognised the need for this implemented rent controls. As we enter another period of economic insecurity after a crisis, we should imitate them and tip the scales back in tenants’ favour.

This article first appeared in the South London Press on the 19th of January 2024.