London mayor Sadiq Khan calls for private sector rent freeze as costs soar

The average Londoner is now paying almost 2,500-a-month, a staggering 16 per cent more than this time last year - as Callum Watkinson reports

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the Government to introduce a two-year private sector rent freeze in the capital, as he hosted an emergency summit on the issue on Monday. Mr Khan said the last year had seen the biggest increase in private sector rents in London “since records began” and that the city had a “real problem” in relation to the 2.6 million people who rent privately. Mr Khan said he was asking the Government to devolve him the powers to organise a commission on rent controls. He said: “It’s not about bringing in a rent control system from another city and imposing it on London, but it’s by working with experts, including landlords, renters and others, to have a system that works for London.” Mr Khan said that he was hopeful that the return of Michael Gove as levelling-up secretary “could bode well” for London, adding that he thought Mr Gove showed “he understood the need for more council homes” during his previous spell in the role.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan Credit: PA

The mayor said: “I’m hoping him [Gove] being back in a job he knew before, but also him being less tribal and wanting to work collegiately, could bode well for us as a city.” The mayor’s office said the average advertised London rent has hit £2,343 a month and that new polling suggests 40% of Londoners will struggle to meet rent payments in the next six months. Andrew Boff, Conservative member of the London Assembly, said the mayor’s proposed rent freeze would “destroy investment in housing, increase rents and result in landlords pulling out of the market – reducing the number of homes that are available”. Kyron Brahmbhatt, 40, a speaker at the mayor’s City Hall summit, said damage from flooding in July 2021, which saw wastewater backflow into his home, has “never been treated” and black mould remained in the basement flat he shares with his girlfriend in Hammersmith. Mr Brahmbhatt said: “A month after the flood my girlfriend tested positive for Covid. We isolated for 10 days in the mouldy flat for the good of everybody – we did that and we could have died in there. “The landlord has done nothing – what I call my home is one room in a mouldy basement where I know the landlord is sitting above me making £1,500 a month.”

Mr Brahmbhatt successfully challenged a section 21 eviction notice served by his landlord in August, but said: “What did I win? The right to stay in these conditions with no help. It’s really difficult to keep going. “I can feel that my glands are swollen – my joints are achy where they never were before.” He added that he wants to stay in Hammersmith to care for his grandmother and father: “I don’t want to abandon my community and where I’ve lived for my entire life just because somebody wants to make some profit.” Jonas Cooper, 57, another speaker at the summit, said that renting in Marylebone for the last 15 years had been “a constant stress” and that there had been problems with damp and cracks in his building. Mr Cooper has a six-month lease and said the length of the tenancy had made the situation even worse as “there’s no security whatsoever”. He said: “This has become a norm for private renters when obviously it shouldn’t be. It’s like the Wild West out there in London with rogue landlords.”

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