Over 200 London renters, facing £3000+ rent increases (20.5%), demonstrated outside Foxtons, Winkworth’s and other letting agents on Saturday 3 December to highlight the human cost of the rental crisis.
In Hackney, renters hung a giant “Freeze Rents, Not Renters” banner from the roof of a Foxtons branch. Elsewhere, renters put landlords in fake stocks, sang rent-rise themed Christmas carols and gave speeches about the homelessness and eviction that many now face, due to rent rises.
Rising rents are driving homelessness to record highs. Many are forced to accept unjustifiably high rent increases for fear of ‘no-fault’ Section 21 eviction if they refuse.
The protests include a call for the government to implement a Scotland-style emergency rent freeze amidst a worsening cost of living crisis.
The Scottish government introduced a freeze on rents in October, following a campaign from renters union Living Rent, and Sadiq Khan has recently joined housing campaigners in calling for an immediate rent freeze in London on private rents. Many cities across Europe employ rent controls to cap the amount landlords can increase rent by.
Rebekah Hesse-Clark from London Renters Union, said:
“By refusing to introduce a rent freeze like the one in Scotland, the government is leaving renters to face eviction and homelessness and giving a green light to estate agents and landlords to continue to exploit tenants.”
Connor, London Renters Union member, said:
“My partner and I were forced out of our home when our landlord tried to put up the rent by £8,000 per year. Finding a new place was a real struggle and in the end we were forced to move in somewhere £200 more per month than before. I now have to work two jobs to make ends meet. We’re taking action because the government is doing nothing to protect renters. Instead of prioritising the profits of landlords and estate agents, the government must step in to protect renters with a rent freeze like in Scotland.”
London Renters Union is a membership organisation representing 6,400 renters across the city.
Photo: London Renters Union