Rapidly rising rents in Lewisham are forcing more families into poverty, experts say.

Lewisham rents rose by 40 per cent between 2011 and 2016 – the largest increase in London, according to a report from the Lewisham Poverty Commission.

With many spending more than half their income on rent, high rent increases are forcing many into poverty, the report’s author councillor Joe Dromey explained.

Mr Dromey told News Shopper: “The dysfunctional housing market is one of the main drivers of poverty in Lewisham.

“Under the Tories, housebuilding in England has fallen to the lowest peacetime levels since the 1920s. As a result, more and more Lewisham residents are facing rocketing rents and insecurity in the private rented sector."

Renter’s Rights London coordinator Portia Msimang said increasing rents  and insecurity – with most assured hold tenancies running for six months – brought a wide range of detrimental effects to the community, and brought more children into poverty.

“It does a lot of damage to people’s security. It is difficult for people to even attempt to build a sense of community when they move from borough to borough,” she said.

This had a big impact on families.

“People usually talk about it in terms of young professionals, but it is forcing families out of the borough, away from friends and families, their support links. So many people are having to leave the places where they grew up, and where they know people, where they have local ties,” she added.

“Already four in ten children in London are living in poverty. There is going to be a strong increase  in child poverty, and it’s not going to get any better.”

She called for stronger regulations on landlords and caps on rent.

Ms Msimang said the housing crisis was a national issue, with local government left with few options.

“Local authorities are strapped for cash. These are decisions made at a national level which impact on a local level, and means councils are left to cobble something together the best they can,” she said.