Increasing rent costs in Leicester could be forcing people to live on the streets

(Article originally featured in Leicester Mercury, dated 10 January 2019)

The cost of renting a home in Leicester has risen dramatically in the last few years according to new statistics.

The average price of a two-bedroom property in the city stood at £575 a month in March 2018, but in 2014 the average price was £500.

That’s an increase of £75 a month, but if prices had risen in line with inflation they would have gone up to £544.

The number of people without a home in Leicester has also increased according to Government statistics.

In fact the amount of homeless families put into temporary accommodation has risen by seven times in the last year.

Dave Fawcett, executive operations manager at Leicester charity The Bridge Homelessness to Hope, recognises that high rent costs could be a factor contributing to homelessness figures.

He said: “Our clients are amongst the most marginalised people in the city and experience homelessness through several root causes and factors, ranging from traumatic events, personal crises and addictions challenges, to the lack of adequate income, access to affordable housing, and mental and physical health support.

“Being able to access and afford secure and safe housing is one of the factors in terms of people finding themselves homeless in the first instance and also in being able to get back into the housing system after a period of living on the streets.”

Across England the average price of a two-bed property has risen from £580 in 2014 to £650 in 2018.

The average rent cost increase in Leicester is 15%, compared to 12% across the UK.

Boroughs in London, the East of England and the South of England have seen the biggest rises in rental prices over the last four years.

In Barking and Dagenham the median cost of a two-bed property has risen from £850 a month in 2014 to £1,200 a month in 2018.

That means prices have risen by 41%, or nearly five times faster than inflation.

Just two places in the whole of England have seen rental prices drop since 2014.

One is Hartlepool, where the average two-bed cost £403 in 2018, down from £433 four years earlier.

The other is the Wirral, where the median two-bed rent has fallen from £495 to £475.

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