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Landlord group claims that property owners are not just “getting greedy”, but are adjusting prices to cope with the cost-of-living crisis
House prices might be falling, but property rental prices in the UK have hit record highs in recent months. According to data from SpareRoom, average monthly room rents in London have risen by 15% in the second quarter of this year compared to 2021, to £815. In Sunderland, room rents are up by 21%, in Belfast by 20% and in Cardiff by 18%.
This has led campaign groups to urge the UK government to put a cap on how much landlords can charge their tenants. In June, the government published the Renter’s Reform Bill white paper, but campaigners claim it doesn’t do “anywhere near enough” to protect the 4.4 million private renters in the UK.
Speaking to Sky News, Anny Cullum, policy officer at housing campaign group Acorn, said: “There’s some really good things in the current Renter’s Reform Bill White Bill, for example ending Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, which will mean tenants aren’t being kicked out of their homes for no reason. But it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough on affordability.”
She continued: “What we want to see is caps and rent controls put in. We can’t rely on landlords to regulate themselves — at the end of the day they are businesspeople, and they’ll take advantage of opportunities to make as much profit as they can.”
However, Landlord groups claim that the price hikes are not being made in the name of profit. As Chris Norris, policy director at the National Residential Landlords Association, told the same broadcaster: “I wish it was as simple as landlords getting greedy and them wanting to make a bit more profit. Actually, we’re seeing the opposite.”
Norris continued: “We’re seeing our members’ yields — their return on investment — go down, because it’s that much more expensive to buy a property, it’s that much more expensive to run a business, so actually where we are seeing the increases, it’s to cover things like increased tax, utility bills, cost of management, it’s not because they’re protecting the margin.”
Meanwhile, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for a bespoke rent control system to protect renters living in the capital.
In an interview with Sky News, he said: “I’m really worried that those renting privately in London are facing a triple whammy. A massive increase in energy bills, a massive increase in inflation, but also a massive increase in the rent they pay to their private landlord. This is exacerbating the cost of living crisis they’re facing. What needs to happen urgently is for the government for the next two years to be freezing the rents tenants pay to private landlords. We’ve calculated that will save the average renter in London about £3,000.”
The broadcaster also approached a government spokesperson for comment, who said: “We recognise people are facing pressures with the cost of living and that paying rent is likely to be a tenant’s biggest monthly expense. That is why we have taken action through our £37bn support package to help households with rising costs.
“Our Renters’ Reform Bill will deliver a fairer deal for renters, bringing into law new measures to protect tenants by abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and empowering them to challenge poor practice, poor housing standards and unjustified rent increases.”
The government has already put some cost-of-living support measures in place, but no further big spending decisions will be made until the new Prime Minister is announced on September 5.