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'The rental market is dysfunctional': Camden campaigner backs rent control calls as data shows steep rises in north London

PUBLISHED: 13:58 11 November 2019

To let and for sale property boards on Watford Road in Sudbury, London. The annual rate at which house prices in England and Wales are falling nearly doubled during September to hit a record of 8\%, figures showed today. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

To let and for sale property boards on Watford Road in Sudbury, London. The annual rate at which house prices in England and Wales are falling nearly doubled during September to hit a record of 8\%, figures showed today. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Renting privately in Camden costs £4,000 more in 2019 than seven years ago - and the picture is even worse in Haringey.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. Photo: Stefan Rousseau / PAMayor of London Sadiq Khan. Photo: Stefan Rousseau / PA

Reacting to the figures - released by the mayor of London - a local campaigner said this was evidence of a "dysfunctional housing market" and backed the mayor's call for rent controls in the private sector.

In Camden, according to the data, private renters are shelling out on average £2,000 a month, which works out at £3,984 a year more than just seven years ago. This is a rise of £332 a month, or 20 per cent.

Over the border in Haringey, the rise - from £1,040 a month to £1,425 is even steeper. That equates to being £4,620 a year worse off.

In Barnet the rise has been more modest, but a £217 a month increase still leaves a £2,604-shaped hole in the pocket of the average renter.

In response to the figures, Robert Taylor from the Camden Federation of Private Tenants (CFPT) told this newspaper: "The overriding emotion in the private rental sector is fear. You pay, and you will know what you can afford to pay and that's it, I always feel that every 12 months it's that fear of that email from the agent saying about a rent increase. Clearly there's a sense this has become unsustainable."

Robert told the Ham&High that skyrocketing rents were just another symptom of a broken market. He said: "When I started here the bread and butter issue we used to deal with was disrepair - but that's probably been overtaken by people coming to us with three main things: The level of rent, the increase they are facing, and the threat of eviction from their home. That shows us how things have shifted."

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He said recently the CFPT had held a meeting where one Kilburn man told he was paying 90pc of his income in rent. Robert added: "Can you imagine what kind of life that he must have? That to me is not living. I would like to say that's an unusual situation, but from the conversations we have had with different groups of people, it's not."

He said he would be supportive of rent controls, explaining: "If it's becoming unaffordable for a lot of people [to rent privately], we have to look at solutions. I know it can be seen as a blunt instrument but in the absence of anything else, rent controls need to be taken seriously."

Obviously part of the other solution is there needs to be much more social housing built. That's a really difficult for local authorities at the moment.

Back in time, there were all these problems but at least you never really worried about rent. Even if you are a really bad landlord or letting agent you will still get business.

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan said it was a "shocking situation" for renters which meant "more and more of their earnings go on rent, and making it harder for them to put down roots". The mayor renewed his call for central government to endow him with powers such as those seen in cities such as Berlin to limit private rents.

Meanwhile, a second campaign group - Generation Rent - have also backed the idea.

Its director, Dan Wilson Craw, said: "High rents are holding back London. Whether you earn too little to move out of your parents' home, or you can't start a family without moving away from your community, the cost of putting a roof over our head is preventing too many us from living the life we want."

In July, Sadiq Khan asked the Government for powers to set up a London Private Rent Commission which would develop and implement a system to reduce private rents in London gradually over time.

As early as 2014, Camden Council's then leadership commisioned and the London School of Economics to produce a report looking into rent stabilisation - but at a local level there are not the powers to change the situation.

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