The Evening Standard reports;
“Central London has become a “no-go area” for ordinary families, as average monthly rents soar past £5,000, new research reveals today.
The “astronomical” levels charged by landlords brought calls for the return of rent controls to stop huge swathes of the capital turning into “millionaire ghettoes”.
Rents in SW1, which includes the elite enclaves of Belgravia and Knightsbridge, are the highest, averaging £6,171 a month. Next is W1, covering Mayfair, Marylebone and Soho, where rents are £5,493, and Chelsea in SW3 on £5,442, according to data by agents ludlowthompson.
For many of the most desirable addresses it now costs more than a £1 a week to rent a square foot of floorspace — enough for a waste paper basket.
Ludlowthompson director Stephen Ludlow said: “Rents have been pushed to astronomical levels in the West End and areas such as Sloane Square, Kensington and Knightsbridge by oligarchs and other global jet set members competing to live in a very limited area of London.
“Wealthy foreign buyers who own properties in these areas rarely rent them out. This has cut the pool of homes available to renters and contributed to sharp rental prices increases.”
Separate research by investors London Central Portfolio showed that even a tiny studio costs £1,400 a month to rent. People needing three or more bedrooms must now budget for about £8,000 a month — or look elsewhere.
The £60,000-a-year cost of renting in the West End is twice the typical London salary and would have been enough to buy an average home in the capital outright as recently as 1986.
The figures come as hundreds of the poorest families living in central London are hit by “bedroom tax” cuts in their housing benefit of at least £18 a week because they have a spare room.
Thousands more face housing benefit caps that may force them to leave their neighbourhoods for cheaper accommodation in the outer suburbs.
Paul Dimoldenberg, the leader of the Labour group on Westminster council, said: “These figures make the strongest case yet for the introduction of controls on private rents.
“London is the only major city without a form of rent control and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Londoners are now paying a massive price for the huge escalation in rents throughout the capital.
“And without more homes at rents that people can afford, London’s housing crisis will only get worse.”
The number of people renting from private landlords in London has soared in the past decade. But a recent survey by housing charity Shelter found that one in five spends at least 60 per cent of their take-home pay on rent.
Rents have spiralled as mortgage finance has become harder to access and more people are forced delay or abandon buying their own property.
Last week Mayor Boris Johnson released figures showing that more than 10,000 new affordable homes were started in London last year. However, the number actually completed halved to 8,114.
The cost of keeping a roof over your head in SW1 is almost seven times that in the cheapest postcode, SE6, which covers Catford and Hither Green.
Landlords in SE6 charge an average of just £884 a month, according to the figures by ludlowthompson. On average, Knightsbridge is now achieving the highest rents after soaring by 9.5 per cent. In Mayfair rents rose by four per cent, according to the LCP figures.
In Belgravia and Kensington, rents held steady during 2012 but in all these areas weekly rents for a square foot have risen above £1.
Catching up fast is Marylebone, which is increasingly attracting foreign renters. After a 10 per cent increase in 2012 it is now achieving average weekly rents of 96p per square foot.
Paddington, Bayswater, South Kensington and Chelsea all saw rental increases of two to four per cent.
But some areas have seen rents fall slightly in recent months due to job losses and falling bonuses in the City and easier access to mortgages.
Areas more favoured by British rather than international tenants, such as Pimlico and Notting Hill, have seen rental declines.
Covent Garden, popular with “City slickers” was the worst affected area last year — down 15 per cent to 73p per square foot a week.
Michelle Smith, London lead manager at the National Housing Federation, said: “We must address this crisis by building more affordable homes in London.”