Renting in London in the year 2016 is, to put it mildly, the worst. Rents shot up 11.6 per cent in the year to September 2015. Teachers are being priced out. Graduates are being priced out. Hell, it looks like the entire middle class might have to leave the city.
The causes are many, but basically come down to high land prices, a lack of housing stock, and a lack of affordable housing in new developments. Meanwhile, renting is made even more unaffordable by sky-high agency fees, and landlords who know, in their heart of hearts, that they'll always find tenants – no matter how much mould there is or the scale of the rat problem.
Yet little is being done. This may be partly because renters are, by nature, less privileged than older or richer people who own homes, and so their voices aren't heard so often. It doesn't help that most of our elected representatives don't rent, and almost 20 per cent are themselves landlords bringing in at least £10,000 extra a year through renting.
So, in order to raise awareness of the horrible (and sometimes even darkly funny) conditions faced by renters, the campaign group Generation Rent has started a Vent Your Rent tumblr page, based on a Twitter hashtag of the same name. Others are posting under #RantYourRent.
Many people have already sent in their stories, usually including their rental costs, location, and the worst problems they faced in their property:
— TowerHamletsRenters (@THRenters) April 26, 2016
£1,170 for a one-bed in Elephant where the boiler didn't work for 3 months. We got it fixed, they upped the rent to £1,220 #ventyourrent
— Julia Rampen (@JuliaRampenMM) April 25, 2016
Many of the problems experienced by the tenants are proabbly against the terms of their contract, or in some cases, the law:
London's new mayor will have some powers when it comes to housing, though not too many: as Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith pointed out in response to a campaign against letting fees, he wouldn't have the ability to ban them. However, Generation Rent has collected together information on each candidate's housing policies, which you can see here. Here's a taster:
Gerenation Rent has deemed the Green party the best of the bunch – which becomes less surprising once you see a recent addition to the #VentYourRent hashtag by Sian Berry, the party's mayoral candidate:
— Sian Berry (@sianberry) April 26, 2016
It's depressing to think that only those suffering from London's housing crisis recognise the extent of it – but for now, that certainly seems to be the case.