London ‘at heart of housing crisis’ as number of private renters passes 1 million

 (Daniel Lynch)
(Daniel Lynch)

The number of London households privately renting has passed one million after rising by 25 per cent in a decade, new census data shows.

Centre for London analysis of the latest Office for National Statistics figures found that 1,025,533 households in the capital were leasing from a private landlord in 2021.

This was up from 819,085 when the previous census was carried out a decade earlier, according to the think tank — a rise of 25 per cent.

Almost one third of lived-in London homes is now privately rented, the analysis found, up from just over one in four in 2011. The capital is now the only region of the UK where less than half of households are in full or shared ownership of their property.

Proportion of London households in the private rented sector since 1971

 (Centre for London)
(Centre for London)

Jon Tabbush, senior researcher at Centre for London, said: “Today’s census results confirm that London is at the heart of the nation’s housing crisis.  

“Due to its higher housing costs, the capital having a lower proportion of homeowners than any other region in England will come as no surprise.

“But with a recession setting in this year, it is essential that the challenges Londoners on lower incomes face securing good-quality, affordable homes are not forgotten in wider conversations about inequality or levelling up.”

Tabbush said more than one in 10 London households was living in accommodation with fewer bedrooms than it required. The capital also has the largest number of households nationwide without central heating, he added.

Generation Rent noted that five million households rented from private landlords across England and Wales in 2021, an increase of more than a quarter since 2011.

Deputy director Dan Wilson Craw said: “Despite an array of supposedly pro-home-ownership policies over the past decade, the private rented sector was the fastest growing tenure.

“A million more households are paying high rents to private landlords, face a much greater risk of living in a poor quality home than other tenures, and live with the threat of eviction at short notice without the chance to appeal.

“In 2019, the government recognised the need for a much better deal for private tenants, including the abolition of unfair Section 21 evictions, but as we start 2023 we are still waiting for the legislation that will make this a reality.”

Andrew Cook, senior strategy manager at Leeds Building Society, said owner-occupation remained the tenure of choice for many.

“Although mortgage costs for many have increased since last year’s mini-budget and housing is currently at its least affordable point since records began, we expect the desire for people to get on the housing ladder to remain,” he said.