London Renters Union (LRU) activists across the capital are preparing for demonstrations early next month to protest against rent price hikes, accusing landlords and specifically letting agents of profiteering from inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.
In Tower Hamlets, protests, which are due to take place on 3 December, will be aimed against Winkworth and in Hackney against Foxtons, who LRU are keen to point out have “raked in £29m in letting revenue between July and September this year, marking almost 20% more than during the same quarter in 2021”.
LRU Lewisham, the south London branch of the organisation, is planning protests across several boroughs, including Lambeth, Southwark, Bromley, Greenwich and Croydon. They are co-ordinating a protest in Crystal Palace.
A packed meeting in Lewisham earlier this month showed the growing momentum for a rental freeze in the face of increasing rent prices for private renters.
The LRU told the press: “We’ve witnessed estate agents urging landlords to increase rents … Thousands of our members across London have already reported unaffordable rent rises. Agents and landlords are cashing in on the current economic crisis to yank up rents and boost their own profits.”
Case studies were shares with EastLondonLines:
Clara Hill, a 27-year-old freelance journalist has been a member for two months said: “Landlords have too much power in society and tenants need better protection under the state”.
Charlie, 30, has been a member for two years and says the people that he deals with have, on average, experienced an annual rent increase of £3,000.
The LRU say they are “inspired by the grassroots campaign of Living Rent in Scotland successfully bringing in rent freeze and eviction bans”.
Similar campaigning by Living Rent in Scotland resulted in the Cost of Living (Tenant Protection) Bill being passed on October 6, effectively freezing rent until March 2023.
They are also encouraged that London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the UK government to introduce a two-year private sector rent freeze.
Londoners face rent hikes as many buy-to-let landlords are forced to pass on the cost of higher borrowing costs, as cheap mortgage deals come to an end.
Lewisham councillor Sophie Davis, cabinet member for Housing Management and Homelessness told Eastlondonlines: “Like the rest of London, private renters in Lewisham are currently facing huge increases in rents and the cost of living.”
She added: “Sadiq Khan is right to call for action from the Government and we would welcome a rent freeze for private renters. We also need the Government to finally deliver on its commitment to introduce a Renters Reform Bill with further protections for private renters, including the long-promised ban on no-fault evictions.”