The London Intelligence – Spring 2023


One of the biggest costs of living for people in London is the cost of housing.

We asked Londoners about their housing costs, how easy or difficult it is to heat their homes, what issues (if any) they had experienced with their property and whether rising housing costs were likely to cause them to leave the capital.

Most Londoners have seen a rise in housing costs

We asked Londoners whether they had noticed a change in their housing costs. 59 per cent had seen an increase in their housing costs, compared to 5 per cent who had seen a decrease.

Renters were more likely to say they’d seen an increase than homeowners (65 per cent vs 54 per cent), while people living in inner London were more likely to say they’d seen an increase than those in outer London (66 per cent vs 54 per cent).

Though our poll does not show a breakdown between social and private renters, the latter are more likely to have been affected by rising housing costs – recent ONS data revealed that private renters have seen their biggest rent increases in seven years.

Rising housing costs may cause some Londoners to leave the capital

Rising housing costs have meant that, for many people, London has become or is becoming too expensive to live in.

44 per cent of Londoners said that rising housing costs would make them more likely to move out of London in the coming year, compared to 24 per cent who say they will make them less likely. Meanwhile, 38 per cent said they would move somewhere else within London.

Students and young people were particularly likely to say they would move out of the city in the coming year, with 60 per cent of students and 59 per cent of those aged 16-34 saying they would move out of London.

Londoners with children were also more likely than those without children to say that rising housing costs will make them more likely to move somewhere else within London (44 per cent vs 33 per cent), and to move out of the capital (50 per cent vs 40 per cent).

Recently the 2021 Census showed that the number of families living in inner London has fallen in the past decade, perhaps due to the higher cost of living there compared to other parts of London and the rest of the UK.

Half of Londoners have difficulty heating their home

47 per cent of Londoners agree with the statement, ‘My home is hard to heat because it is poorly insulated’, while 28 per cent disagree with it. These figures are similar to March 2022.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused wholesale gas prices to almost quadruple between early 2021 and January 2022, causing the average energy bill to rise from under £1,300 a year in early 2022 to £2,500 a year in early 2023 – which would be £4,279 a year without the government’s energy support scheme.

Most Londoners have experienced health hazards in their home

In the past year, a substantial minority of Londoners have experienced potentially harmful conditions in their home such as damp and mould.

The most commonly experienced of these were:

  • mould on the walls, ceiling, or furniture of their home (41 per cent)
  • not being able to keep the home warm with the heating on (41 per cent)
  • and damp inside their home (40 per cent).

Meanwhile, 38 per cent of renters say their landlord has failed to make essential repairs to their home in the past year.

Renters were more likely than homeowners to be experiencing damp in their home at the time of our survey (26 per cent vs 18 per cent) and mould on the walls, ceiling, or furniture of their home at present (29 per cent vs 18 per cent).

Having mould in the home is a serious problem that can cause and worsen respiratory issues.

Why is this happening? Unusually old residential buildings are likely one culprit – London has the highest proportion of pre-1930 dwellings of any UK region. But this is combined in the capital with a uniquely high proportion of privately rented properties, which landlords currently have few incentives to spend money insulating.

More than half of London renters’ landlords have failed to make essential repairs to their homes, which may put them in serious danger or undermine their quality of life.

Notably, disabled Londoners are significantly more likely to have suffered from this neglect than those without disabilities. There are also differences among people of different ethnicities, with 38 per cent of white Londoners never having had their landlord fail to make repairs, compared to 28 per cent of Londoners of any other ethnicity.

Improvements to home insulation: all Londoners

Londoners have become increasingly interested in making improvements to their home’s energy efficiency over the next year.

The changes that Londoners were most likely to either have made in the past or were planning to make in the next year were improvements to windows, including double glazing (42 per cent) and improvements to their roof insulation (35 per cent).

However, many Londoners who wish to make a change aren’t able to. The changes that Londoners were most likely to say they would like to do but can’t afford it or don’t know how were installing a solar panel or a heat pump (43 per cent) and improvements to their wall insulation (40 per cent).

Improvements to home insulation: London renters

More than half of London renters want their landlords to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes, despite the disturbance it might cause.

For every improvement we asked about (installing better windows, including double glazing, wall and roof insulation, solar pumps and heat pumps), at least 50 per cent of renters agreed or strongly agreed that they would want their landlord to make them.

Most popular were improvements to windows or double glazing, which 64 per cent of renters wanted and only 13 per cent did not.

Political response to the housing crisis

Many Londoners are unimpressed with the efforts of local, city, and national government to improve the availability of good quality housing in London – over 60 per cent believe each are doing too little to resolve the crisis.

London homeowners are significantly less critical of national government on the issue than renters. Meanwhile, a majority of people who say they intend to vote for the Conservative Party at the next General Election say that the national government is doing too little to improve the availability of good quality housing in London (59 per cent). The proportion is higher among those intending to vote Labour (72 per cent) or Liberal Democrat (73 per cent).