Over the past decade, rent rises in Bristol have outpaced wages to the tune of more than £869 million in ‘overpaid rent’ paid by Bristolians, according to new figures from Bristol Green Party. The growing gap between rent and income means the average long-term renter living in Bristol since 2012 will have paid an ‘excess premium’ totalling £15,461 to their landlord.
Between 2011 and 2020 Bristol’s renters paid landlords £5.6 billion – almost £869 million more than if rent increases had matched wages. In that time the median rent in the city, or rent paid by the average Bristol renter, has gone up from £650 per month to £1026. [sources in notes below]
At the current average house price in the ward, the overcharged £869 million would be enough to purchase every rented home in Bedminster almost twice over today.
Bristol Green Party has launched a new ‘overcharged rent calculator’ which Bristol renters can use to look at their own circumstances.
By entering the year they started renting in Bristol (back to 2012) the calculator will work out the rent they have each paid above what would have matched average wage rises.
Bristol private renter Amy, who has been paying over a third of her take-home pay in rent and has lived in the city since 2017, says:
“I used the calculator and was shocked at the figure – £7,617 overpaid compared to if rents had only risen with wages. My partner and I have been trapped in the rental market for so many years.
“I feel so lucky to have been able to save during lockdown and get help from parents to finally get a mortgage – the extra we’ve paid to landlords since moving to Bristol could have made a huge difference.”
Greens in Bristol have also launched a petition to Mayor Marvin Rees calling for a unified effort from city and regional Mayors to demand rent control powers from the government. The Mayor’s 2021 election manifesto pledged to “campaign for the power to introduce rent controls to make Bristol an affordable living city”.
Green Councillor for Clifton Down, Tom Hathway said:
“I’ve grown up and now rent in Bristol, and have watched friends move further and further away from our city due to the increasing cost of living where they were raised.
“I welcome the Mayor’s support for rent controls, which are common across Europe and America, and invite him to unite with city and regional Mayors on a clear demand to the government for devolution of powers.
“The cost of living in Bristol is leaving people trapped in a cycle of insecurity and cannot be left to continue to spiral out of control.”
The petition calls on the Mayor to:
“1) Further lobby the Government for rent controls so that we have the power locally to impose rent controls to protect private renters
2) Work with Mayors of other UK cities and regions to ensure there is a unified call for rent controls
3) Report annually on what fair rents for dwellings in Bristol should be”