London rental crisis: capital’s insecure workers 'hit hardest' by 11% rent hikes

Rents are rising despite the slow in inflation as the cost-of-living crisis continues (Daniel Lynch)
Rents are rising despite the slow in inflation as the cost-of-living crisis continues (Daniel Lynch)

London has continued to see soaring rent inflation, with a 10.8 per cent year-on-year rise recorded in April 2024.

This is down – marginally – from the record-high annual rise of 11.2 per cent recorded in March 2024, according to the Price Index of Private Rents from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Rents rose more slowly over April 2024 than the same time last year.

The average rent in London is currently £2,070, with a dwindling number of postcodes where rooms for under £800 can still be found.

Rising rents pose the greatest threat to the capital’s insecure workers, warned Rebecca Florrison, principal analyst at Work Foundation, a think tank based at Lancaster University.

“On average, renters in Britain are having to find £103 more a month than they were last year,” Watson said.

“This is most acute for workers in London, and will hit insecure workers hardest as they earn on average £3,276 less than those in secure jobs.”

“Renters in Britain are having to find £103 more a month than they were last year.”

Rebecca Watson, principal analyst at Work Foundation

Insecure work includes shift work and variable hours, where short notice periods and shift cancellations can negatively impact monthly incomes. There are around 800,000 insecure jobs in London, according to the Living Wage Foundation.

“With only 30 per cent of employers preparing to give above inflation pay rises in 2024, many private renters will have little breathing room to pay their increased rental costs, which are already outpacing wage increases,” said Florisson.

Despite rising wages for some and inflation slowing on consumer goods, rent increases have made the cost-of-living crisis an acute reality for the city’s private renters.

“Over the past year rents have risen much faster than wage growth of 5.7 per cent,” added Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive of Generation Rent.

“Even though consumer price inflation is slowing, renters in London are typically spending 40 per cent of income on rent.”

“Rents have risen much faster than wage growth of 5.7 per cent.”

Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive of Generation Rent

The latest figures put UK price inflation at 2.3 per cent, the lowest it has been in three years. But rent rises outpacing inflation is pushing the capital’s households to the brink, he warned.

“More families face worsening household finances and are at risk of poverty,” said Wilson Craw. “Unaffordable rent increases can force people to move out, often far from their workplace, family and community. In the worst case scenario, they become homeless.”

No-fault evictions have spiked, with a 62 per cent increase in the number of tenants served with eviction notices between 2022 and 2023. There were 11,457 households facing eviction last year, according to the latest Ministry of Justice data.

Many evicted Londoners find their landlords re-list their properties at higher rents after evicting them.

The government had promised to outlaw no-fault evictions with a pledge to ban section 21 in their 2019 manifesto.

But the ban was delayed as ministers claimed the local court system needed to be overhauled first to give landlords greater protections when evicting tenants.

With the General Election called yesterday it is unclear if the Renters Reform Bill, which has passed its third reading in the House of Lords, will be pushed through in the wash-up period before Parliament is prorogued.

“To protect renters in future, the priority for the next Government must be to reform the private rental market to make it fairer for renters” said Florisson.

The next government must also introduce legislation to “garuntee all workers minimum hours and the Real Living Wage, to mitigate their vulnerability against rising housing costs,” she added.

"Renters need much better protection from the instability of rent inflation,” said Wilson Craw. “We need to build homes where people want to live, but we also need limits on rent increases, so that people are not constantly under threat.”