Mapping London's residential rents

All yours, for a mere £1,500 a month. Image: Getty.

Britain may be a nation of homeowners, but its capital is a city of tenants. In 2012, for the first time in decades, a majority of the capital's homes weren't occupied by the people who owned them: a majority of its households now rent.

The joke's on them, then, because London rents are horrible. Check out this graphic from the book London: The Information Capital, which shows that even in outlying parts of town, a two-bedroom flat will set you back by well over £1,000 a month. In the centre, it can be two or three times that:

Note too that, for all the East End's hipsterfication, it's still a fair bit cheaper than West London. That said, the accompanying map shows that the posh bits of West London were among the few parts of the capital which saw rents fall in the year to last spring. So, oddly, did the areas around the Olympic Park at the eastern edge of Hackney.

Don't get too excited, though, because the vast, vast, majority of the city’s tenants have seen their rents increase: the East End, in particularly, remains red hot. And that trend seems unlikely to stop. From Londonist:

There are nearly 10 tenants chasing every London rental property, according to information released by a network of estate agents.


You won’t be surprised to learn, being intelligent folk who know exactly what happens in a free market with an imbalance of supply and demand, rents have risen 9% year on year. This takes the average London rent, according to Sequence, whose London sales and letting agent arm trades as Barnard Marcus, to £1,591.

On the upside, if you happen to be sitting on a buy-to-let property empire, you've pretty much got it made. Renters' loss is rentiers' gain.

London: The Information Capital by James Cheshire and Oliver Uberti is published today by Particular Books.


Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps clash over free bus travel for under 18s

A London bus at Victoria station. Image: Getty.

The latest front in the row between Transport for London (TfL) and national government over how to fund the capital’s transport system: free bus travel for the under 18s.

Two weeks ago, you’ll recall, TfL came perilously close to running out of money and was forced to ask for a bail out. The government agreed, but offered less money, and with more strings attached, than the agency wanted. At present, there are a range of fare discounts – some up to 100% – available to children depending on their age and which service they’re using, provided they have the right Oyster card. One of the government’s strings, the mayor’s office says, was to end all free TfL travel for the under 18s, Oyster or no Oyster.

The Department for Transport’s line on all this is that this is about maximising capacity. Many working-age people need to use buses to get to their jobs: they’re more likely to be able to do that, while also social distancing, if those buses aren’t already full of teenagers riding for free. (DfT cited the same motivation for banning the use of the Freedom Pass, which provides free travel for the retired, at peak times.)

But in an open letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, wrote that TfL believed that 30% of children who currently received free travel had a statutory entitlement to it, because they attend schools more than a certain distance from their homes. If TfL doesn’t fund this travel, London’s boroughs must, which apart from loading costs onto local government means replacing an administrative system that already exists with one that doesn’t. 

Some Labour staffers also smell Tory ideological objections to free things for young people at work. To quote Khan’s letter:

“It is abundantly clear that losing free travel would hit the poorest Londoners hardest at a time when finances are stretched more than ever... I want to make sure that families who might not have a choice but to use public transport are not further disadvantaged.”

London’s deputy mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, is set to meet government officials next week to discuss all this. In the mean time, you can read Khan’s letter here.

UPDATE: The original version of this piece noted that the full agreement between the mayor and DfT remained mysteriously unpublished. Shortly after this story went live, the agreement appeared. Here it is.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.