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Housing

Key points

  • The cost of market housing in London is double the average for England. This gap has widened in the last 5 years.
  • The lower quartile rent in the three most expensive boroughs (Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Camden) is double the lower quartile rent in the three cheapest boroughs (Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Bexley).
  • In the three years to 2013/14 there was a net increase of 7,700 affordable homes per year in London compared to a target of 13,200 in the 2011 London Plan (40% below the target). Of this number 60% were available for social rent.
  • 1,500 more affordable homes were provided in both Southwark and Hackney in the three years to 2013/14. Redbridge delivered only 110 additional affordable homes despite providing 1,400 more at market prices.
  • In 2014/15 1,470 mortgage possession orders were issued in London, a fraction of the 8,500 peak in 2006/07. Before this peak mortgage possession levels were higher in London than the rest of England, but in the last five years they have been equal.
  • There were 27,000 landlord possession orders in London in 2014/15, which permits the landlord to immediately evict the tenants. As a rate (14.3 per 1,000 renting households) it is more than double the rest of England. Levels tended to be higher in Outer boroughs, with Enfield, Redbridge and Croydon all over 25 per 1,000.
  • Around 22% of homes in London do not meet the Decent Homes standard, similar to the national average. This has been falling across England in recent years but particularly in London.
  • In 2012/13 London contained around 250,000 overcrowded households, with the social and private rented sector accounting for 100,000 households each. The level of overcrowding among renting households at 13% is 4 times the level among owner-occupiers at 3%.

Commentary

Housing has always been a central theme of London's Poverty Profile. Once housing costs are taken into account London has the highest rates of poverty in the country. What is most worrying is that the extent of this problem seems to be getting worse rather than better and there appears to be no progress.

The gap in housing costs between London and the rest of England continues to widen. The targets set out in the London Plan for affordable house building are regularly missed. Overcrowding, particularly in the private rented sector, has risen further and is now several times higher than the rest of the country.

That there is a housing crisis in London has long been accepted - even the Mayor agrees. But with radical solutions - huge expansions in housebuilding, rezoning of the green belt, comprehensive landlord registration, increased property taxes - seemingly off the agenda, it is London's low income families who bear the worst of it. Their choices are stark - live in evermore overcrowded conditions in ever smaller properties, cut back on other essential expenses or move to cheaper parts of Outer London or out of the capital altogether.

Housing is likely to be one of the key issues in next year's mayoral election - all the Labour and leading Conservative candidates have highlighted the problems of affordability. But unlike the national housing agenda of Help to Buy and Right to Buy, this debate cannot just be about home ownership. London is about to become a majority renting region and the new Mayor has to ensure that housing is affordable and decent for renters as well as owners.