One promise the Prime Minister must keep

Theresa May has broken her word. She ruled out a snap election five times, then called one.

Our question is: what other promises is she going to tear up?

The government is consulting now on proposals to ban letting fees, and the deadline of 2 June is a week before polling day.

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A Renters Union?

When we launched Vote Homes we called on the candidates to take action on rents, housebuilding, security and conditions.

But we also asked for something a bit more fundamental: for the next Mayor to commit to meeting regularly with renters groups.

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Spinning the roulette wheel

If you ever wonder why we as a nation are "obsessed" with home ownership when people happily rent for life in Germany and the Netherlands, consider the number of ways you can lose your home as a renter.

Even if you pay the rent on time, take care of the property, and learn your neighbours' names, you can be forced to move if the landlord decides to sell up, raise the rent to a level you can't afford, or just doesn't renew the tenancy. 

A new poll from BMG finds that 27% of current and former private renters have experienced an unwanted move.

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London is a 'mare for renters

LONDON NEEDS A MAYOR FOR RENTERS

Today, with 100 days to the London Mayoral election, we have launched www.votehomes2016.com, as the place to go if you want to know who is promising what to fix the city's housing crisis. 

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Join our campaign for fairer tenancies

This morning, the local community in Herne Hill stopped bailiffs from evicting a 69-year-old private tenant from her home of seven years.

Her landlord, Manaquel, served her with a no-fault eviction notice which gave her no option but to move out or sit and wait to be forced out by the bailiffs.

After a notice to quit, a possession order, and a warrant from the court, the bailiffs arrived today at 9:30 to be met by 20 neighbours and local campaigners who sent them on their way.

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Longer tenancies: busting some myths

Earlier this week we launched .

Achieving this is going to entail hacking through a thicket of special interests. Where it’s not the landlord replacing tenants every six months, it’s letting agents who want their annual renewal fee, or mortgage lenders demanding easy access to the property if the landlord does a runner.

Even deposit protection schemes - government-licensed organisations which supposedly exist to protect tenants - are throwing up roadblocks to reform by spreading misinformation. 

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Housing & Planning Bill: the good bits, the bad bits, and the silence

The Housing and Planning Bill has been announced and is making its way through the Commons. The government is using the legislation to drive through some major changes that threaten to weaken social housing and harm the poorest members of society.

But they're also embarking on some much-needed changes to the private rented sector which should help to root out illegal practices and improve renters' homes. 

The Bill is silent on security for renters. At a time when millions of us have no option but to rent privately, we need to start having some protection from eviction on a landlord's whim: today we launched a petition calling for this. Please sign it and help us persuade politicians to give everyone a stable home.

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Don't let mess get in the way of your deposit

This is a guest post from Joanna White of Property Principles. To write for our blog, please contact us.

Moving house is stressful enough - finding a suitable flat, packing up your things, trying to avoid paying double rent for too long. And then there's the question of whether you'll get your deposit back. 

According to the Tenancy Deposit Service, 56 per cent of deposit disputes are about cleaning.  Many of these end with tenants losing all or most of their deposit.  It’s in everyone’s interests to reduce the number of cleaning disputes. Here are my tips for avoiding disagreements when you hand over your keys:

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The London estate being torn apart by evictions

If ever there was a case for the reform of private renters' rights it's this. 

Residents of Dorchester Court in Herne Hill all rent from the same landlord, Manaquel Ltd. In recent years, the company has tried putting up the rent by 30% in many cases - some of the residents managed to negotiate a lower increase, but are still paying much more than before. 

This year, instead of having their tenancy renewed, the landlord has been issuing them with section 21 eviction notices - giving the tenant 2 months to leave - without giving them a reason or any option to stay.

Image from Brixton Buzz

[photo: Brixton Buzz]

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MPs to debate making rented homes fit for humans

When a tenant has a landlord who refuses to make repairs to the property, the local council should be their next port of call. Unfortunately, local council environmental health teams are woefully under-resourced and many cases of unsafe housing slip through the net - there are an estimated 16% physically unsafe privately rented homes. 

Where the council doesn't take action, it is technically possible for the tenant to take their landlord to court - but only if their rent is below £80 - a year. There is a requirement for landlords to ensure that homes are fit for human habitation but it's limited to rent levels last set in 1957.

Karen Buck MP is setting out today to change that.  

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Starter homes: another attempt to ignore the housing crisis

"Generation Buy". Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. For baby boomers and Generation X, buying a home was taken for granted, and no one calls those cohorts "Generation Buy". But David Cameron seems fond of the phrase and if it means that he’ll stretch every sinew to make it happen, fine.

First time buyer numbers plummeted a decade ago from a peak of 600,000 to 300,000 today, hence the rise of generation rent. Most private renters still want to buy a home, and the government recognises this; George Osborne said before this year’s election that he wants to double the annual number of new home owners.

But the Prime Minister won’t change anything about home ownership with the policy he talked about in his speech to Conservative Party Conference. “Starter homes” are his latest wheeze, following the failure of Help to Buy to revive aspiring home owners’ fortunes. These privately built homes will be sold at a 20% discount to first time buyers. If house prices keep rising at current trends, that means that in 2018, you’ll be able to buy a new-build flat at 2015 prices. Sorry Dave, but I won’t be opening the champagne quite yet.

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