Well, the Housing White Paper was a massive disappointment. After an exciting glimpse on Sunday of moves to "incentivise" longer tenancies, on Tuesday it became clear that those incentives were existing government subsidies for companies building new homes. Number of beneficiaries: 80,322 (not counting the companies who would have offered longer tenancies anyway).
For the 4.3 million households in existing properties? The vague undertaking to "consider what more we can do to support families already renting privately, while encouraging continued investment in the sector." Which gives little hope to people who don't live with their family and a lot of hope to property speculators.
Commenting on the Housing White Paper, Dan Wilson Craw, Director of Generation Rent, said:
“Sajid Javid has the right analysis about the plight of renters, but his White Paper has failed to offer us anything of substance.
Although the 2016 Housing and Planning Act paved the way for the mass sell-off of council houses, eroded security for social tenants and watered down the affordability of new homes, it also made it possible to ban criminals from letting out properties, with new Banning Orders.
As we await the Housing White Paper to see how far the government will go to improve private renting further - and how much it will atone for the damage it caused to social housing - we are drafting our feedback on how Banning Orders will work.
Today's Observer declares that the "home-owning democracy", that elusive vision beloved of the Conservatives since Thatcher, is finished.
Ahead of next week's Housing White Paper, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid says, "We understand people are living longer in private rented accommodation", which is the closest the government has come to admitting that their policies to help first-time buyers can only go so far.
As the publication date for the government's Housing White Paper approaches, we and groups across the the housing world are hoping for an announcement that will signal a 'whole new mindset', as the Secretary of State has promised.
One item that will be included is confirmation of how the government's long-running Starter Homes policy will work - and the detail will tell us how far it will go towards slowing the affordability crisis for first-time buyers. This is the government's flagship policy that was pitched as "turning Generation Rent into Generation Buy".
This morning, Mortgage Strategy magazine and the Daily Telegraph reported that Santander is requiring its buy-to-let borrowers to raise the rent on their tenants as high as possible.
The bank even demands that landlords get a valuation of the market rent every time the tenancy is up for renewal and then "take all steps to ensure that the review [with the tenant] takes place and leads to the maximum increase in the rent which can reasonably be achieved."
Just before Christmas, as the weather got colder and government released its latest update on the fuel poverty statistics, there was still no news for private renters who need clarity about the detail of minimum energy efficiency standards in the PRS.
The statistics showed that one in five private rented households are officially fuel poor, and that the average ‘fuel poverty gap’ – the amount of money needed for a household to escape fuel poverty – is highest for private renters.
Despite these worrying trends, there is, in theory at least, some light at the end of the tunnel – but delays in implementing the policy need to be quickly remedied for that to be realised.
Generation Rent would be nothing without the people who donate their money or time to the cause. We have a team of two full-time staff going into 2017, and we are ever more reliant on the generosity of our supporters.
The organisation is governed by a board of unpaid trustees, who support the team and enable us to devote as much of our energy to campaigning for renters' rights and building the wider movement.
With the need to develop the diversity of our funding, and new opportunities to make the most of, we are recruiting several new trustees who will help us do this.
Since its launch, Generation Rent has achieved a series of improvements to the lives of renters, including:
- Outlawing of revenge evictions
- Making landlords pay their fair share of tax
- Stronger regulation of landlords and letting agents
- A proposed ban on letting fees
The growing renter population finally has a voice, but it needs to be much stronger.
For many years, debates around housing supply have suggested that a model needs to be worked up that leverages investment into building new long-term, professionally managed privately rented accommodation, as is much more normal in other countries around the world.
Generation Rent has always argued that new supply will only help a small percentage of lucky renters, and that the priority should be to support legislative reform that would improve things for the over two million London renters in existing stock.