New City Hall analysis shows private renters miss out at elections

Wednesday 21st August 2019

  • Mayor calls for overhaul of sector to give renters better deal

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has published new analysis showing private renters are less likely to register to vote –and so are missing the opportunity to have their voices heard at both a local and national level.

City Hall analysis of the electoral roll and housing in London found boroughs with the highest numbers of private renters have some of the capital’s lowest levels of voter registration.

For example, Westminster and Tower Hamlets have large private rented sectors – at 40 per cent and 33 per cent of households respectively. Both boroughs have below-average levels of voter registration, at 64 per cent and 77 per cent of adults.

In contrast, in Havering only 11 per cent of households rent privately and 96 per cent of adults are registered to vote.

The analysis is backed up by national estimates from the Electoral Commission* which show that 94 per cent of owner-occupiers are registered to vote, compared to just 63 per cent of private renters.

Many private renters move home frequently, often due to insecure tenancies. Twenty-seven per cent of London renters moved in the last year, compared to just five per cent of social renting households and three per cent of owner-occupiers.

The Mayor believes this analysis underlines the need for greater stability and rent controls as he has recently called for, which would give London’s renters the choice of staying in their homes for longer and putting down roots in the community.

Along with a coalition of campaigners, the Mayor successfully lobbied the Government to commit to ending ‘no fault’ evictions by removing ‘section 21’. Last month City Hall published a landmark report calling on the Government to overhaul London’s outdated tenancy laws and to give the Mayor powers to introduce rent controls.

The proposals include introducing open-ended tenancies and the Mayor establishing a new London Private Rent Commission, with renters on its board, to implement and enforce measures to reduce rents and keep them at lower levels.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London has more than two million private renters and they deserve the right to have a say in elections like everyone else.

“Private renters desperately need a better deal, and although I have no powers over the private rented sector, I have successfully joined campaign groups in getting the Government to commit to scrapping ‘no fault’ evictions. Now we need to hold ministers to that promise and make sure they go further by giving me to powers I need to introduce rent controls in London.

“The private rented sector urgently needs to be overhauled so that tenants can better afford their rents and feel secure in their homes.”

With the average private rent for a one-bed home in London now more than the average for a three-bed in every other region of England**, the Mayor believes the case for City Hall being given powers to bring rents down has become overwhelming. Far more Londoners are also now renting, with 26 per cent renting privately in 2018, compared to only 11 per cent in 1990***.

Across London as a whole, 25 per cent of households were privately renting at the time of the most recent census in 2011 and 86 per cent of adults are registered to vote.

Georgie Laming, Campaign Manager for Generation Rent, said: “Renters in the capital are frequently moving home, often due to rising rents and lack of security. When you aren’t sure how long you’ll be living somewhere it can feel pointless to make lasting connections in your community, whether that’s registering to vote or getting to know your neighbours.

“This is another reason why renters need more stability – we’d be more confident to invest time in our communities and contribute to the democratic process.”

Portia Msimang, Project Co-ordinator for Renters’ Rights London, said: It’s very worrying that so many Londoners are effectively disenfranchised by their circumstances as private renters. Londoners desperately need the security of tenure which open-ended tenancies would provide. Even then, for many years, London rents have risen much faster than wages. If this is allowed to continue, even more of us will be forced to move as a result.

For London to make housing policy fit for our circumstances, we need devolution of the necessary powers to regional level. Ours remains one of the most centralised countries in the developed world and as a result, too many Londoners, particularly those of us living in the private rented sector, are unable to live our best life.”

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