Housing has become unaffordable in London. Like many other parents, I wonder how my children will be able to live in a city where rents are amongst the highest in the world and where house prices have soared. For anyone who does not already own a property, it seems almost impossible to afford a place to call home.
You have to earn over £40,000 a year to be able to afford to privately rent a 2-bedroom flat in Hornsey & Wood Green. And if you are lucky enough to find somewhere you can afford, especially at the bottom of the market, your landlord can excessively raise the rent when your short term tenancy expires or might evict you if you complain that your heating is unsafe. Then you have to start looking all over again and pay hundreds of pounds in agency fees, again.
This is unsustainable. It is not good for our local economy. A home is not just a roof over your head or an asset you can sell – most people want a place to settle, to bring up their families, to be part of a community. We already hear that 30-somethings are abandoning London for more affordable places to live.
I’m glad that Labour is looking at ways to tackle this problem. Building homes, affordable homes for first time buyers and to rent, will increase the supply.
But we need to do more.
Labour will regulate the private rental sector. A Labour government will legislate to ban letting agents from charging fees to tenants and will legislate to make three year tenancies the standard in our private rented sector, giving people who rent the certainty they need. These new longer-term tenancies will limit the amount that rents can rise by each year – so landlords know what they can expect and tenants can’t be surprised by rents that go through the roof.
We have a choice, between a city which is increasingly becoming a place where only the very rich can afford to live or intervening in the overheated housing market to stand up for a balanced and fairer housing solution.