Dissatisfied south London residents suffer worst rental costs says Green Party survey

Dissatisfied Merton and Wandsworth residents reported spending more than half of their take-home pay on rent according to a new survey released yesterday.

The Green Party’s Sian Berry compiled the Big Renters Survey where Merton and Wandsworth respondents reported spending 65% of their income on rental costs – the highest in London.

In Croydon and Sutton, 48% said they struggled to meet rent increases over the last three years, which was also the highest figure in London.

Ms Berry said: “In this report I’m recommending that the Mayor stands up for London’s private renters and support them in standing up for themselves.”

Her findings come on the back of rising anger at landlord and estate agent practises, with bloated fees under the spotlight after Scotland banned them in 2012.

“So many of the renters who answered my survey had found letting agent fees to be too high and frankly outrageous in many cases,” said Ms Berry.

“Renters on short term contracts were charged large sums every year for the agents to do little more than print out a new contract.”

Among other recommendations, Ms Berry’s report suggests more support at the London-wide level for renters, including a central information source with links to existing renter’s groups and council schemes.

In addition to this, Ms Berry calls for continued pressure from the Mayor to push the government to devolve more powers over housing to London.

She said: “The willingness of renters to pay a small fee to join a renters’ organisation is very significant, as it means such a group could become self-sustaining once it has been set up.

“The Mayor should look seriously at providing practical help such as office space and seed funding to help found an independent London-wide organisation to represent renters in our city.”

The housing and homeless charity Shelter have long advocated for fees reform.

“Desperate to secure a home, tenants have little to no ability to question agents’ fees,” the charity said.

“Worse, agents are motivated to offer the best offer to landlords so are incentivised to pass as many costs as possible onto tenants.

“Combined, this drives up fees for tenants.”

With 30% of people surveyed describing their experiences with letting agents as ‘bad’ in Ms Berry’s report, general dissatisfaction with the rental market is being echoed by various MPs.

Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake is running a Reform Renting campaign, with his party the Liberal Democrats putting forward a new Renter’s Rights Bill in Parliament.

He is attending a protest on Thursday, October 13 with the activist group Generation Rent outside the Department for Communities and Local Government, calling for better renter’s rights.

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