Half of London's tenants 'struggle to pay rent'

Housing in central London

More than half of London's private tenants are struggling to pay their rent, housing charity Shelter has said.

The research by Shelter and YouGov also found almost half of families have had to borrow money to cover the costs.

One in three tenants have fallen into debt in the last year in an effort to meet monthly payments, Shelter found.

Government figures show rents have risen by 19% in London in the last five years. The average rent for a two-bed flat is now more than £1,600 a month.

The average Londoner spends almost 60% of their income on rent.

Shelter says the next mayor of London should commit to using their powers to get London building 50,000 homes a year, prioritising new homes that are affordable for Londoners on low and average incomes.

'Spiralling into debt'

The charity also wants to see five-year tenancies with rent rises limited to inflation rates.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said private renters "deserve better".

"Tens of thousands of people are either being pushed out of the city, or are spiralling into debt just to be able to keep a roof over their heads - borrowing money from family or going into the red on credit cards," he said.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London said efforts are being made to improve the rental market.

The spokesman said: "Despite very limited powers, the mayor has led the way in driving efforts to improve the private rental market through the London Rental Standard, which is the first city-wide effort to co-ordinate and promote training and accreditation amongst landlords and letting agents."

Image copyright Jay Turner
Image caption Jay Turner says her rent has just increased to £1,600 a month

Private tenant Jay Turner is about to move out of the three-bedroom flat she shares with her three children in Mitcham, south London, because the landlord is selling up.

He recently increased the monthly rent from £1,350 to £1,600 because, he told her, "everyone else is, and I'd be stupid not to."

Ms Turner was in the process of setting up her own business. She said she was not yet eligible to claim housing benefit again. She and the children will stay with her father.

She would like to see a rent cap, like one introduced in Berlin, pointing out money the government spends on housing benefit goes straight to private landlords.

"Housing benefit is capped but rent isn't," she said.

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