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News from Siân Berry: End to letting agent fees won’t stop Londoners being priced out

23 November 2016

Sian Berry on what the Autumn Statement means for London renters

With thirty per cent of the UK’s renters living in London, and with our average rents now about £1,500 per month, London’s renters need action from this Autumn Statement and some small progress today is welcome.

The banning of letting agent fees is a huge relief to those who rent in London – myself included – who have been watching the success of this change in Scotland with envious eyes. Too many London renters are driven into debt when we move because of the nasty, unpredictable shock of sky-high fees being charged for seemingly trivial services like printing an inventory.

But an end to letting agent fees alone won’t stop Londoners being priced out of our city.

An extra £3.15 billion for London to build new homes and relaxed restrictions on housing grants are both steps in the right direction, but only small steps. The goal of 90,000 new affordable homes – an unknown number of these for rent - will only help a tiny proportion of London’s private renters. I’m confident we can make the most of these grants on our public land, but in London we have nearly a million households who privately rent and their rents are rising fast – on average nearly £40 per month in the last year alone.[1]

The 90 per cent or more of London’s renters who can’t take advantage of the Mayor and Chancellor’s new homes need more from our leaders. Devolved powers for cities to set controls on rent rises is a necessary and logical step that many other cities around the world make use of in innovative and sensible ways. The Mayor should be making the case for the Government to look at this urgently.

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