London Landlords Evict Tenants to Cash in on ‘Olympic Lets’

Rack-renting near London Olympics Site

LONDON — Landlords in Britain’s capital are evicting tenants so they can cash in on this summer’s Olympic Games by charging tourists many times the usual rent.

Homes in the east London boroughs where many events are to be held are fetching between five and 15 times their typical rates as properties are rebranded as short-term “Olympic lets.” Some landlords are also enforcing expensive “penalty” clauses for tenants who want to remain during the gathering of the world’s top athletes.

Rent controls are almost non-existent in Britain and some Londoners told that the looming increase in housing costs will leave them with no choice but to leave the city for the summer.

Because of the economic downturn, rental prices have risen dramatically in the past 18 months with fewer new properties being built. Some pockets of the city have seen spikes of 15 to 18 percent – which has only exacerbated the looming Olympic housing squeeze.

For instance, the average rental price for a two-bedroom property in the five Olympic boroughs – Greenwich, Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest – is 1,113 pounds ($1,751) per month, according to Shelter’s 2011 Private Rent Watch report.

Part of the problem is that the east London boroughs around the Olympic sites are some of the poorest parts of the city and already have the highest rate of evictions. Most people pay anywhere from 55 to 70 percent of their monthly wage on rent, according to Shelter’s 2011 report.

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