Sadiq seeks rent freeze

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Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for rent freeze to combat cost of living crisis. The Mayor’s call comes ahead of the £693 hike in the energy price cap on 1st Aprilreports Asian Lite News

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is calling on Government to give him the powers to freeze private rents in the capital for two years and help to save £3,000 in rent for thousands of Londoners struggling to cope with the rocketing cost of living.

New City Hall analysis, based on estate agent Savills forecasts, shows that freezing private rents for two years would save Londoners on average a total of £2,988 across both years, with £881 in the first year and £2107.60 in the second year.

Research from City Hall and YouGov previously estimated that a quarter of London’s 2.4 million privately renting adults had fallen behind on their rent, or said they were likely to do so, as a direct result of the pandemic. More than a third of private renters polled said they thought the pandemic was having a ‘large impact’ on their personal finances, with half a million Londoners now potentially facing eviction.

Ofgem has already announced an average rise of £693 fuel bills for 1st April by raising the energy price cap, with further steep rises expected due to spiralling global gas prices. The most recent Bank of England Monetary Policy Report has forecast that inflation will rise still further to over seven per cent. With no further support to help renters stay in their homes, thousands of low-paid Londoners being impacted by reduced incomes and higher bills will simply accrue more and more debt, with no means of paying it off.

The Mayor has consistently been on the side of London’s private renters, successfully campaigning for the Government to end unjust letting fees, suspend evictions during the pandemic and put in a package of grants to help keep renters in their homes. He has also secured a commitment that Ministers will end ‘no-fault’ evictions for good and it is essential that Government prioritise making good on this.

  “Private renters make up nearly a third of everyone living in the capital and they are set to be hit by a devastating combination of price and bill rises,” said the mayor. “Too often the needs of private renters are ignored by both landlords and the Government.

“Rising fuel and energy costs – which will hit renters in energy inefficient homes the hardest – are already causing anxiety and stress, with a big rise in the energy price cap due next month. That’s why today I’m calling on ministers to give me the powers to stop rents rising in the capital, and help me to give people a chance to get back on their feet after the pandemic.”

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “With the cost of living spiralling out of control, the Mayor is right that renters need more protections from unaffordable rent hikes. It’s too easy for landlords to raise rent on tenants and it’s too difficult for renters to negotiate, or challenge a rent increase at a tribunal. Without intervention landlords can effectively evict their tenants by making their home too expensive for them to afford. The mayor needs powers to intervene for London’s millions of renters.”

Last month, the Mayor provided £200,000 to extend Debt Free London’s debt helpline as surging food, energy and fuel costs put more pressure on Londoners.

Recent polling showed that 34 per cent of Londoners have struggled to pay their household bills in the last six months, with 13 per cent struggling to make ends meet, going without essentials or relying on credit.

The Mayor’s Warmer Homes Programme will draw on £40.2 million of Government funding and £11.1 million from City Hall and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to provide grants for up to 3,200 homes in London to upgrade heating, insulation and ventilation. Low-income homeowners and Londoners who rent privately will be eligible to claim grants of up to £20,000 from this month (March 2022) to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, cutting the cost of bills and reducing the impact on the environment. There is a real need to expand such schemes to help households cut carbon and bills by improving energy efficiency of their homes. 

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