Protesters made their feelings known outside the event on the banks of the Thames in central London. Image: London Renters Union
Renters have demonstrated outside a London event helping landlords maximise profits in protest over rent increases and evictions.
Around 100 members of the London Renters Union (LRU) held a protest outside the National Landlord Investment Show on Tuesday in protest over “landlord profiteering”.
The one-day show, held at Old Billingsgate in central London, featured sessions on how to make the most of earnings, reduce tax and included a talk titled “how to build a £25 million property portfolio using none of your own money”.
Protesters warned the government’s upcoming Renters Reform Bill does not protect tenants already at “breaking point” from rent increases. The group spun a ‘wheel of misfortune’ at the protest with each participant granted a rent increase or eviction with each spin.
Florence Schecter, an LRU member who attended the protest, said: “I’m having to look for a new home because my landlord demanded a rent increase after only a year of moving in. I was already paying 70% of my income on rent so any further increase was effectively an eviction notice.
“I never thought I’d be facing the prospect of moving back in with my parents in my 30s but I’m struggling to find anywhere affordable on the market. I’m tired of moving every year because landlords are constantly hiking the rent. It makes it difficult to settle down and feel at home. It’s unfair that I cannot save my own money or make long-term plans for the future because the majority of my salary is going to pay off someone else’s mortgage.”
Rents have reached record highs in the last year with existing tenants also experiencing rent increases. The Office for National Statistics found half of the tenants they surveyed in February had experienced a rent increase in the last year.
The rises come as renters have also been facing a surge in other costs such as energy and food bills as part of the cost of living crisis.
That’s incited anger towards landlords, although some property owners with mortgages will be feeling the pain of rising interest rates.
That anger spilled over at Tuesday’s protest with renters taking exception to the event helping landlords to maximise their earnings from tenants’ pockets.
LRU has called for a rent freeze to be put in place in the English capital. That call has been echoed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan but the Westminster government has maintained a stance in opposition, insisting that rent controls would lead to declining standards in the private rented sector and discourage investment.
Instead, the government is due to bring renting reforms through parliament, ending a four-year wait to ban no-fault evictions, which allow a landlord to evict a tenant without giving a reason.
The bill, which was introduced to parliament in May but is yet to receive a second reading, also looks to raise the standards of rental homes and give tenants more rights to keep a pet but offers little protection from large rent hikes.
“Landlord profiteering is driving the current crisis forcing hundreds of thousands out of their homes,” said Bekah Hesse-Clark, London Renters Union spokesperson. After the mass privatisation of our public housing, landlords have hiked prices well above what is affordable for years. Now renters are at breaking point, with many struggling to afford food, bills, or face being driven out of their homes and communities.
“There is an opportunity in the Renters Reform Bill to bring renters real security. But the government is still prioritising landlord profit over everyone’s right to a decent home. Unless the government acts to protect renters from extortionate rent rises, it will break its promise to 11 million renters, leaving us with the same uncertainty and insecurity we’ve faced for years.”
The organisers of the National Landlord Investment Show have been approached for comment.