A typical weekend for Jack Trimmer used to be spent in busy pubs in South West London. But they tend to look a bit different since he moved back into his parents home in Hampshire a few weeks ago.
“Life is a lot quieter around where I live so my personal life will definitely be disrupted,” he tells City A.M.
The 26-year old scientist had spent the majority of his early twenties in London, but at the start of this year his landlord told him that he and his three other flatmates would have to leave because they wanted to renovate and sell the house.
Jack said that he was keen to stay in the capital, where the majority of his friends still live, but when he tried to look for a new place over the summer he simply could not afford the cost of rent.
“I couldn’t believe that rent per room was around £1000 a month minimum, whether that was a two, three or four bedroom flat share,” he explained.
“This and stories from my friends about bidding wars on the doorsteps to flats, mainly resulted with me giving up quite quickly looking for houses and just deciding to move home and commute to work.”
Unfortunately Jack’s situation is not unique. He is one of the countless young professionals whose lives have been upheaved by London’s renting crisis, a problem which has been accelerated in the last year by landlords putting their homes on the market in response to rising mortgage rates.
For many fresh faced graduates, moving to London and securing your first job in the City was almost a rite of passage, but a recent study by YouGov showed that nearly half of 18-24 year olds living in the capital now plan to leave within the next 10 years.
A cocktail of dwindling supply and rising demand has made renting nothing short of a nightmare. In October, there were over 76,898 people registered on housing hunting app Spare Room looking for a single room to rent in London but only 16,803 properties advertised.
The price of a bedroom in a home in the capital is now also on average £1,030 up from £933 in the same period last year and £797 the year prior to that.
Matt Hutchinson, communications director at Spareroom told City A.M. that there is “nowhere” left in London you can call affordable.
He explained: “Sharp rises in areas that have historically been deemed more affordable due to increased demand as renters seek cheaper housing, mean the supply of affordable accommodation is shrinking even further.
‘THERE’S NOWHERE YOU COULD CALL AFFORDABLE’
“Realistically, there’s nowhere left in London you could really call affordable – affordability has become relative.”
Jack said he doesn’t feel like he could return to London until he sees an increase in pay.
“London has opportunities to have large salaries if you are qualified or go into those industries, but the wealth disparity from these jobs to everyone else is so large,” he said.
“I think it’s getting less accessible for young people, and quite quickly at that as rent is increasing so rapidly.
He added: “The biggest shame of it is the local young families and low income workers that have much less of a choice about where they can live, having to compete against young people for the cheapest rents. Without rent controls everyone is losing except landlords and estate agents.”
“The biggest shame of it is the local young families and low income workers that have much less of a choice about where they can live, having to compete against young people for the cheapest rents. Without rent controls everyone is losing except landlords and estate agents.”Jack Trimmer
Wage stagnation spurred on by the 2009 financial crisis has also played a role in more and more twenty-somethings packing up and returning to their parents home in the commuter belt, Molly Broome, economist at think tank Resolution Foundation said.
She said: “The financial crisis ended the era of intergenerational pay progress, when each generation earns more than the one before.
“Young graduates have been hit especially hard, with typical weekly pay for graduates aged 30-34 falling by 16 per cent since 2007, compared to just a six per cent fall for non-graduates.”
She added: “Despite London offering more opportunities for graduates, pay has still fallen in the capital. Hourly pay for graduates aged 25-34 living in London was seven per cent lower today than in before the financial crisis.
“A decade and a half of pay stagnation alongside rising costs have left young people in a much more financially precarious position than the generations that came before them.”
Demand to live in the capital has always been high, which means that landlords can get away with charging extortionate prices for occasionally substandard properties.
Yolanda Ford, a 26-year-old marketing executive, described her decision to leave London as “heartbreaking” but felt like she had no choice after her landlord refused to sort out a recurring issue with bedbugs.
She had lived in her flat in South-East London for a year and a half – where she believes the bugs were already present before she moved in – and spent £1,000 of her own money trying to sort this issue.
“I remember having nightmares that I’d accidentally taken them [bedbugs] into the office,” Ford explained.
“The landlord refused to help us with the issue, and getting rid of bedbugs is very expensive – we all spent around a grand trying to get rid of them.”Yolanda Ford
“The landlord refused to help us with the issue, and getting rid of bedbugs is very expensive – we all spent around a grand trying to get rid of them.”
She said: “The financial strain of paying for pest control, launderette costs, and increased energy bills from constantly washing and tumbling drying our clothes on high heat, along with the stress of not wanting to pass them on to friends, caused us all to have a dip in our mental health.”
Yolanda tried to find a new place in London, but said she would have ended up forking out an extra £200-£300 to remain living in the capital.
“Socially, it’s been isolating, I’m not able to see my friends as much or get involved with spontaneous mid-week drinks,” she added.
“Work-wise, I focus far better when I’m in the office so I’d love to be able to go three or four days a week, but trains are expensive from where I live during peak times, so I would barely be saving if I did that. I’m not always as focused and productive as I’d like to be.”
With buying out of the questions for the majority of young British workers, their exodus from London has also led to this surge in renting costs spilling over into commuter towns.
In the last year the cost of renting a home in Dartford, Kent, has surged 14.5 per cent and Epping Forest in Essex has also seen a price rise of 12.8 per cent, according to figures from Zoopla.
So, what next? A slither of hope may be found in the new Renters Reform Bill but the policy, which aims to abolish no fault evictions, is now unlikely to receive Royal Assent or approval until next year due to delays in parliament.
A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, told City A.M. that the mayor has been clear that record high rents are a “symptom of the housing crisis”, which is why he is doing all he can to deliver more genuinely affordable homes across the capital.
They said: “Since Sadiq became Mayor, London has completed more homes of all types than at any time since the 1930s, delivered higher council homebuilding than at any time since the 1970s, and exceeded its ambitious target of starting building 116,000 new genuinely affordable homes in the capital.”