London’s Housing Crisis – When Is Enough, Enough?

In case you missed it, last week’s European, 15-minute celebrity was Sam Cookney. Who is he? Cookney is social media manager in London…but living in Barcelona. Back in 2013, he did the math and realized that it would be cheaper for him to rent in Barcelona and get on a plane twice every day than rent a flat in London. Two years later, London rent has only increased, so he did it.

Cookney pays $875 for his Barcelona apartment with a balcony and $150 for his flight every day – still a lot cheaper than the average London rent at $3,318. He says his total commute time is 5 hours, but he doesn’t seem to mind. I guess neither would anyone else if they lived in the old gothic area of Barcelona as well as getting to see Big Ben every day. But, this best of both worlds isn’t for everyone and London’s high rent prices are a huge problem for everyone else.

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London tenants are being forced to sharing rooms with complete strangers. A site created just for this problem is roomshare.co.uk. They have seen a 71% increase in shared room searches in the past two years. Even more statistically surprising is that bedroom shares now accounted for just over 10% of the market.

A similar website is Kangaroom. Its founder, Jinder Sidhu said, “While rent prices in general rose by 7.5% in 2014, room-share prices have decreased by 12% due to increased supply and denser living conditions.” It has now become a normal case for Londoners to have to share a bedroom with complete strangers, which is not only comfortable, but dangerous as well.

People like Cookney aren’t the only ones affected, new graduates are specifically targeted. They feel like that have to be in London in order to launch their career, but they are also getting paid little or for part time work, making sharing a bedroom their only option.

London residents are hoping that politicians will commit to building affordable homes that they so obviously need. After many coming forward and saying they are spending one-third of their paycheck on rent and have resorted to cutting back on groceries & other essential items, there is a petition for a London Rental Cap. Other countries like Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands have a rent cap as well. Who thinks London should be the next to adopt it?