Sadiq Khan calls for immediate rent freeze, as half of London renters paying a premium for draughty homes


London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for an immediate freeze on private rents for Londoners, following new City Council analysis showing tenants in poorly insulated homes are paying a premium on their energy bills this winter.

As well as a rent freeze, which would save private tenants £3,000 over two years, the Mayor is advocating the introduction of a Lifeline rate for energy to ensure the most vulnerable people receive a base amount of free energy every day.

The City Council’s analysis shows that, even with the Government proposed price guaranteeLondon tenants will pay more for energy due to drafts in homes.

Half of private rentals in the capital, equivalent to 490,000 homes, are below Band C, the minimum acceptable energy rating standard. Of these, 20,000 are at F or G, the two lowest grades.

The Council estimates that those with a rating below Band C will pay a premium of £455 per year, rising to £947 in Bands F and G.

Sadiq Khan said: “This winter, London’s private tenants are facing a triple whammy with rising rents, bills and the cost of household essentials, putting huge pressure on their finances.

“Even with the government price guarantee, private renters will pay significantly more for energy this winter because private landlords have failed to adequately insulate drafty homes.

“Once again, I urge ministers to act now to tackle not only the climate crisis, but also the energy crisis and the skyrocketing cost of living by launching a major housing insulation campaign. The government must also give me the powers to stop rising rents in the capital, which would save Londoners £3,000 over two years and curb rent inflationary pressure on family budgets.”

It is not the first time that the mayor has asked for rent controls in the capital. During his 2019 re-election campaign, he said controls like those already in place in cities like New York and Berlin (though later defeated in court) were also needed in London.

In March of this year, he asked ministers for the power to freeze private income in the capital for two years, a petition that repeated in August, after rents increased 15 percent in a year. Tweeting statistics from the rental website SpareRoom, which showed the average rent in London had risen to £815 a month, he said the situation was “a disgrace”.

With these repeated calls to freeze rents, the pressure on ministers is mounting. However, landlords and rental experts argue that rent controls can drive landlords out of the market and reduce the number of properties available for rent.

Earlier this month, the The Scottish government introduced an emergency law to freeze rents, prompting demands from housing advocates and tenant unions for London to do the same.

“Private renters are especially affected by the cost-of-living crisis through rent increases and the rising cost of heating poorly insulated homes,” said Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, a campaign run by tenants.

“Without further action, more tenants will be faced with the harrowing choices of turning up the heat or putting food on the table. Many will fall behind on rent and risk eviction and homelessness, and councils are already dealing with rising homelessness.

“To reverse this crisis, the government needs to freeze rents, suspend no-fault evictions, and stop automatic evictions for back rent.”

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