Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Darren Norris

I’ve just been made aware of this consultation and I’m conscious that the deadline was 11am today, however I would appreciate if my view on the sector could still be considered. I’m feel compelled to share my experience of the sector.

I am a 34 year old man, renting a one bedroom property in Archway (N19) with my partner and our two year old daughter. The property is small, poorly insulated, suffers from mould and is very cold. We provide all our own furniture. This costs us just under £1,000 a month, just for rent. We still have the normal bills and council tax to pay. At some point we will need to get a two bedroom property because our daughter needs her own room but two beds seem to be in the region of £1,200+ a month and this is for very basic accommodation. Moving will tend to cost three months worth of rent (one months notice to current landlord, the new landlord will want a deposit and will not hold the property for a month so you have to pay and move in asap + estate agent fees).

My concern is that that these prices are completely out of proportion to wages and disconnected from what you get for your money. I earn what should be considered a good wage (£45,000 gross) yet all I can “afford” is a one bedroom rental property which comes close to 40% of my net monthly income. Two beds would be in the region of 45–50% of my net income. If we have another child then we won’t be allowed to rent another one bedroom due to insurance reasons, so we’re cornered unless we stump up even more of our money.

How can these level of rents be fair? What other type of product/service commands this much money each month? Would this be acceptable if the utility companies or rail companies charged this sort of money a month? So why is it acceptable for renting? And what exactly are tenants getting for this sort of money because we still have the usual household bills to pay on top?

It seems that tenants are being asked to fund the mortgages of landlords and you have to ask how this can be considered fair or moral? It is akin to a transfer of wealth. We are honest people working hard each month to provide for our families and having to hand-over 40% of our incomes to a landlord. Is it any wonder why so many people are in so much debt?

I’m not a policy maker but have a few suggestions to make on how the sector could be controlled/regulated:

Limit lettings to only those landlords who own their houses outright. This prevents landlords saddling tenants with high rents to cover the mortgage payment which everyone else then copies.

Set a cap on rents, eg 20% above the mortgage interest payment (not capital) or at the level of council housing whichever is the greater.

Provide longer tenancy agreement to give families security.

Build more social housing to increase the supply and encourage a free-er market with more real choice, therefore driving down prices.

Introduce measures that reduce house prices which rents are linked to.

I truly believe that house prices and thus housing costs are at the root of this country’s problems. High housing costs are socially and economically damaging. People are getting in to debt, families are having to make sacrifices, just so that we can pay for a roof over their heads.

I hope my view on the sector is useful to your consultation. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

January 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013