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BBC scrutiny dents mayor’s bid to paint bleak renting picture

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been pulled up for selectively using statistics to lend weight to his demands for rent controls in the capital.

Khan recently Tweeted: “London’s average rent is expected to soar to £2,700 next year. The average take home salary per month in London is £2,131. Londoners cannot continue living this way. That’s why I’m calling on the government to urgently introduce a rent freeze.”

ONS forecast

BBC Radio 4’s More or Less programme investigated his claim and discovered that City Hall had worked out predicted take-home pay using the Salary Calculator UK website while average rent was worked out using Rightmove’s figure of £2,480 a month at the end of 2022 and Savills’ prediction of a 5% increase in rents next year.

The programme explained that Rightmove was describing new rental agreements while by looking at actual rents, the ONS had put the median monthly rent in London at £1,500 a month.

Property types

After speaking to Tim Bannister, director of property science innovation at Rightmove, it discovered that average monthly rent figures included all property types, with the most common properties counting for more. While a one-bedroom flat in London costs an average of £1,800, the most popular type of property is a two-bedroom flat with an average rent of £2,265 which, divided by two is £1,132 per room.

The programme concluded: “Nobody is claiming London is cheap, but if as Sadiq Khan did, you compare this year’s salaries with next year’s rents and if you look only at new rents, not existing ones, and if you focus on a single person’s income while including the rents for multi-person homes, you’re going to make things look considerably worse than they really are.”


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