Nurses, teachers, carers, and other key workers locked out of renting in London

Renting in London is impossible for a range of key workers, with the average rent in inner London worth 106% of a teaching assistant’s salary, research from Generation Rent reveals.

Analysis of 15 key and essential worker roles show that not a single borough of Inner London is affordable for roles across education, healthcare, social care, construction, retail, commerce, and hospitality.

We are calling on candidates for London Mayor to demand powers to control rents and commit to building many more social homes in the capital if they win in May.

A home is considered affordable if it costs 30% or less of your income.

How much are key workers paying on rent?

Analysis of 15 key and essential worker roles found that the average proportion of incomes required to cover the rent on the median one-bedroom home is:

  • 106% of teaching assistants’ incomes
  • 100% of kitchen assistants’ incomes
  • 97% of cleaners’ incomes
  • 97% of sales assistants’ incomes
  • 91% of pharmacy assistants’ incomes
  • 90% of receptionists’ incomes
  • 86% of hairdressers’ incomes
  • 82% of care workers’ incomes
  • 76% of chefs’ incomes
  • 66% of painters and decorators’ incomes
  • 63% of bus drivers’ incomes
  • 56% of community nurses’ incomes
  • 49% of primary teachers’ incomes
  • 46% of secondary teachers’ incomes

Not a single one of Greater London’s 32 boroughs is affordable for:

  • Bus drivers
  • Care workers
  • Chefs
  • Cleaners
  • Community nurses
  • Hairdressers
  • Hospital porters
  • Kitchen assistants
  • Painters and decorators
  • Pharmacy assistants
  • Receptionists
  • Sales assistants
  • Teaching assistants

Several of the roles analysed would pay over half of their wages on the average rent in all boroughs in inner-city London – Painters and decorators, chefs, care workers. Some are paying over half across every borough in Greater London – Hospital porters, receptionists, hairdressers, sales assistants, pharmacy assistants, cleaners, kitchen assistants and teaching assistants.

Teaching assistants experienced the most affordability issues of the roles analysed in this research whose most affordable London borough is Sutton (62% income spent on median rents) and least affordable is Westminster, with almost one and a half (145%) of their income on average required to cover rents.

For the five lowest-paid jobs, there are four boroughs – the City of London, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster – where average rent costs more than the entire salary.

What needs to be done?

Just a few years ago we were clapping on our doorsteps every week for key workers. Now they risk being driven out of our city because of soaring rents. For communities to survive, local people must be able to stay healthy, receive an education, find a safe home to live in and purchase basic goods. But, if those working in vital jobs cannot afford to live in the area, everyone loses out.

The current cost of renting crisis is devastating London’s communities. It is vital that England’s Metro Mayors have the power to slam the brakes on local rents and give our key workers the breathing space they need to live and work in their community. It is also vital that the mayor and the government build more affordable homes in the capital and increase how much social housing is available.

Are you a private renter struggling to pay your rent? Tell us your story here.

Generation Rent has set out a number of priorities for Metro Mayors and candidate in the upcoming election. Read more here.

You can find the full data here.

These figures have been calculated using government figures from the Valuation Office on ‘One Bedrooms’ monthly rents recorded 2022-23 and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 2023.


Looking for some help and can't find the answer ?

Let us know using the form below, and we’ll try to find out

Individual Advice

Generation Rent can’t offer advice about individual problems. Here are a few organisations that can:

You might also find quick but informal help on ACORN’s Facebook forum, and there are more suggestions on The Renters Guide.