Rent prices have dropped in three of the Eastlondonlines boroughs over the past year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But according to renters’ rights activists it is not enough to negate the “absurdity” of rent in London.
While rent prices have gone up across the rest of the UK, they decreased by an average of 5% across London, Zoopla’s recent UK Rental Market Report found. Hackney, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets have all experienced decreases ranging from 1% to 7%. Rents in Croydon, like those in many other outer London boroughs, have increased by 3% over the past year.
The drop in price has been driven by the pandemic, Harry Neil, assistant manager of Alex Neil Estate Agents in Canary Wharf, told ELL: “People haven’t gotten back to work yet so they’re just not looking for property.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if rent prices continued to decrease,” he added. Tower Hamlets rents have already dropped by 7%, the third biggest decrease in London after Chelsea and Westminster and the City of London.
Connor Dickenson, a HR manager at Atkinson McLeod Estate Agency in Hackney, where rents fell by 5%, said: “There is less demand. Families are leaving Hackney for outside the city as they realised they could have more space for the same price.”
“Due to furlough, people are living on 80% or less of their income at the moment and most of us pay more than 30% of our income on rent,” said the Renter’s Rights spokesperson. Tenants in London on furlough currently pay 86% of their income on rent on average, according to findings by Benham and Reeves.
The spokesperson added: “Current tenants are welcome to try and negotiate their rent, but people also did this at the beginning of lockdown with varying levels of success.”
Many are in debt as a result of being unable to fully pay their rent during lockdown, with the potential of losing their deposit. “To me the bigger story is how people can handle the debt they are now in, how are the Government going to combat this,” the spokesperson said.
For Renter’s Rights London, the Zoopla report is nothing but a red herring. “Rent prices are absurd in this city. I do think it’s a pity that people are focusing on this modest decrease in rent when these larger issues are ongoing.”
Reporting by Anna Prudhomme and Niamh Houston