London rent protests: Where and why are they happening across the capital?

 (Instagram / London Renters Union)
(Instagram / London Renters Union)

It now costs more than £2,000 a month to rent a typical home in the capital, according to research published this week.

The Rental Index from insurers HomeLet showed that private tenants in Greater London paid an average of £2,011 per calendar month in November.

As the cost-of-living crisis rages, campaign group London Renters Union has called for the UK government to act to ban further increases in monthly payments through a rent freeze similar to that in force in Scotland.

The group is holding a “day of action” on Saturday (3 December) — here’s what you need to know.

What is happening?

Protesters will meet at six designated points across the capital before marching to stand outside specified estate agents and make their feelings known.

Homes & Property understands that as well as placards and strident speeches there is likely to be an element of fancy dress — including a highly anticipated costume-based portrayal of a rat infestation.

Campaigners claim to have the support of local dignitaries and expect some of the groups to be at least 50-strong.

Each of the six protests is likely to last for about an hour.

Where and when will it all take place?

The first protest group will convene at 10.30am outside Pret A Manger in the Mall at Wood Green before moving as one to the premises of a local property agent.

At 11am, the second party will meet at Roman Road Market just south of Victoria Park in east London to make a similar journey.

South of the river, one group will meet at the Vicar’s Oak entrance to Crystal Palace Park, at the top of Anerley Hill, before 11.30am.

Three groups plan to meet at midday — one at Willesden Green station to the north-west of the capital; another at Stratford Station to the east; and the third on Mare Street next to Hackney Tap.

Why are these protests happening?

The London Renters Union says its members have reported rent increases since September that average in excess of 20 per cent.

So-called rent gouging, hiking up monthly payments well beyond inflation and interest rate levels when tenancies end, is driving homelessness and poor living standards, campaigners say.

The Ministry of Justice recently found that private landlord possession claims, one of the steps in the eviction process, were at their “highest level ever” this summer.

Now private tenants are organising and making their feelings clear to landlords and their agents.

What is the ultimate aim?

London Renters Union is asking for Westminster to implement a rent freeze in line with the policy in Scotland.

Rent increases implemented north of the border between 6 September this year and 31 March 2023 are invalid outside certain exemptions.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan recently asked ministers to give him the power to bring in a similar freeze in the capital.

Campaigners have echoed this call for government action but added that any rent ceilings brought in by individual estate agents would also be welcome.

What are private tenants saying about rent rises?

A member of the London Renters Union identified only as Connor 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 costing £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.

“The government must step in to protect renters with a rent freeze like in Scotland.”