Feargus O'Sullivan is a contributing writer to CityLab, covering Europe. His writing focuses on housing, gentrification and social change, infrastructure, urban policy, and national cultures. He has previously contributed to The Guardian, The Times, The Financial Times, and Next City, among other publications.
Want a moldy suburban apartment for $1,500? Then you’ve come to the right city.
If you want evidence that London’s renters are being taken advantage of, look no further than a new social media campaign. Launched Monday, the #rantyourrent hashtag encourages London’s overcharged and poorly housed tenants to visually detail the bad conditions they’re expected to put up with in return for large sums of monthly rent.
The results, detailed in a new Tumblr called Vent Your Rent, make for sobering viewing. Examples include one woman paying £1050 ($1,527) for a mold-infested apartment located conveniently for nowhere except the world’s busiest airport (next door), and a tenant paying £750 ($1,091) a month for a room only to be hounded by (illegal) visits from a landlord who would let himself in unannounced. The individual stories are just snapshots of a wider crisis that is seeing rising housing costs power an ever-increasing inequality gap in the UK capital
In truth, London’s rental homes have long lagged behind many other European cities in quality. Central heating and double-glazing are typically mentioned in advertisement as luxuries (especially the latter) rather than standard features. But in recent years, available housing has become yet shabbier while rents skyrocket. Aware that theirs is a seller’s market, landlords and rental agencies are increasingly being reported for hounding tenants they know have few other options. The groundswell of anger, as detailed by the Vent Your Rent Tumblr, is nonetheless steadily pushing housing and inequality up the UK’s political agenda. Here are some examples taken from the blog.