- “Affordable” housing scheme backed by Mayor charges more than £1,000 a month in average rent and charges
- Scheme lists studio flats costing £12,500 a year
- Some properties require a minimum income of £40,000 a year just to qualify
- Only 70 properties currently available across a 40 mile radius around London
By Chaminda Jayanetti
An affordable housing scheme backed by Boris Johnson is offering small studio flats in London for more than £12,500 a year in rent and service charges.
The “intermediate rent” scheme is part of First Steps, an affordable housing programme backed by the Mayor of London to help lower and middle income earners get on the housing ladder.
Intermediate rents are subsidised to around a fifth below market rents – but with market rents in London already out of control, the supposedly affordable intermediate rents are also beyond many people’s reach.
Studio flats are self-contained apartments, often combining a kitchen, living room and bedroom into one single room, with a small separate bathroom.
But the supposedly affordable intermediate rent scheme currently lists two of these small apartments at £12,500 a year each in rent and service charges – one in Greenwich, the other in Lewisham. The only “key features” listed for the Greenwich flat are carpets and a cooker.
Moreover, the flats are restricted to households earning at least £38,538 a year.
Given that studio flats are too small for a couple to comfortably live in, this means a renter must be earning almost £40,000 a year just to afford a tiny “affordable” apartment.
Three one-bedroom flats available under the scheme have even higher minimum income requirements, with only individuals and couples earning more than £40,000 a year able to bid for them.
No household earning more than £66,000 a year is allowed to rent under the scheme – a cap raised to £80,000 a year for properties with three or more bedrooms.
Only 70 rental properties are currently available under the scheme – a drop in the ocean compared to London’s dire housing needs – and 52 of these carry a minimum household income requirement.
The average minimum household income required to rent these properties is just over £36,000 a year – but that includes flats and houses with multiple bedrooms.
Even so, the average income “per room” is a hefty £26,500 a year – putting most of these properties well beyond the reach of people working in catering, cleaning, hospitality, and plenty of other jobs needed to keep London going.
The rents demanded under the intermediate rent scheme would make eyes water outside London. The average rent and service charge is more than £1,000 a month – and allowing for multiple-room properties, the average rent and charges “per room” is nearly £9,000 a year.
In fact, the cheapest one-bedroom flat offered under the scheme would cost more than £7,000 a year, with most of the one-bedroom flats costing more than £10,000 a year in rent and charges.
Nor is flat-sharing a quick route to genuine affordability. Only three of the multi-room properties come in at under £5,000 a year “per room”. In fact, 23 of the “affordable” properties have annual rent and charges set above £10,000 per room, including a two-bedroom apartment in Croydon.