London’s ‘Sky-High’ Cost of Renting

The high cost of housing in the UK is not a new thing, particularly for students looking to rent/buy either during university as a future investment or for those that have graduated and plan on living and working in London.

An investigation, conducted by the BBC, has found that people spend over a 1/3 of their income on rent, particularly in London. A studio flat in the London boroughs of Camden, Hackney, Islington, Kensington, Chelsea, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster costs over £1000 a month in rent. Meanwhile, the average cost of renting a single room in a flat or a house in London is around £600 a month.

Dan Wilson Craw, a policy manager from Generation Rent, a campaign dedicated to affordable housing, has criticised the high rents in London and the South East. Craw has stated that “the only option for average earners is to squeeze themselves into ever more crowded flat shares” which is “unsustainable… for anyone who wants to settle down”. He believes that, unless there is a significant decrease in rent, London and surrounding areas will start to lose people to cheaper districts.

Many people have found that it is increasingly more difficult to find affordable housing in London and the South East, and have been forced to move away because of the large gap between salaries and rent. Experts have said that housing should cost no more than 30% of take home pay, which is currently averaged at £550. However, average rent for a one-bed flat is £694.

Henry Gregg at the National Housing Federation said: “These figures provide yet more evidence of how seriously unaffordable renting is in this country. Sky-high rents mean unstable and uncertain living situations are becoming the norm.”

According to Lloyds Banking Group UK, housing affordability in UK cities is now at its worst since the housing market boom in 2008.

Student housing rents are definitely rising, causing discontent amongst current and recently graduated students. There have been warnings of a critical shortage in student housing, leading to a 10% rise in rents. These high rents are what has led to the rising number of student protests against rent, especially those seen at UCL and the University of London Halls during Princess Anne’s visit. The North-South divide is particularly seen through both student rent and housing affordability as it is clear that places in the South cost significantly more than in the North.

Alan Ward, chair of the Residential Landlords Association said there was a rental “supply crisis” but a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government has said that they have “doubled the housing budget… investing £8bn in an extra 400,000 quality affordable homes to rent and buy” in an effort to help the “supply crisis” and affordability issues that have been increasing in recent year.s


By Michele Theil

Michele Theil is a freelance journalist based in London, specialising in investigative journalism and pieces relating to the LGBT+ community, women, race and culture – and their intersections. She is a bisexual woman of colour, and passionate about social justice, diversity, inclusion, writing, reading and swimming. Read her other work at

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