Campaign wins: How the Renters (Reform) Bill could make renting fairer and more equal

At Generation Rent we have been campaigning tirelessly to make sure that not only will the Renters (Reform) Bill improve the lives of renters, but also address the discrimination that many of us face.

Our mission is to make sure that all private renters are able to find quality, secure and affordable homes and that means these reforms must reach through to marginalised people and those at the sharpest end of the housing crisis.

With that in mind, here are the top successes for our campaign to end discrimination in renting, which are now included in the Bill and could become law soon:

An end to blanket bans on benefit claimants and children

The government are making changes to formally ban the discrimination of renters who claim benefits and who have children. People who claim benefits often face discrimination from potential landlords and letting agents who refuse to let homes to them, forcing many to live in unsuitable, poor quality or even dangerous homes or to face homelessness.

Meanwhile ‘no children’ terms are increasingly common on rental ads. Shelter has estimated that as of March 2023, almost 290,000 families had been affected by a ‘no kids’ stipulation. This limits the availability of homes for families.

The Renters (Reform) Bill will grant renters extra protections from being discriminated against because they receive benefits or have children, opening up the availability of homes on offer to them.

An end to insurance bans on welfare claimants and people with children

For those who have been looking for a new rental home, you may have noticed that some landlords and letting agents have also been restricting people claiming benefits from accessing their properties by saying that their insurance doesn’t allow them to rent to them. This is unfortunately a relatively common and (currently) legal practice. However, this is now set to change under the Renters (Reform) Bill.

Insurers will no longer be able to prevent landlords from renting to benefit claimants and people with children, meaning that a big loophole which has allowed discrimination will finally be closed off.

A Decent Homes Standard in rented homes and beyond

After a long campaign from Generation Rent, the Renters (Reform) Bill will be bringing in higher standards for privately rented homes. To add to this, these standards will also be applied to temporary accommodation and supported accommodation provided by non-profit making organisations, known as exempt accommodation. This means that people in the most vulnerable situations in the UK – those facing homelessness and survivors of abuse in particular – will still benefit from improved conditions in where they are living.

Our own 2023 research, surrounding people who are migrants, highlighted that it was vital for both privately rented homes and temporary accommodation to improve, not least because renters can unfortunately move between rented homes and temporary accommodation. In the report we said: “Every renter and temporary accommodation inhabitant is in danger of being forced to endure poor conditions, exploited by landlords or letting agents, or trapped in an unaffordable rental market. By making [private renting] and temporary accommodation fair for the most marginalised and discriminated groups in the UK, we make them fair for everyone.”

Everyone should be able to live in a good home, regardless of whether that home is temporary, short-term, or long-term, so improving standards not only in privately rented homes but also temporary and exempt accommodation is great news for tenants.

Protections from homelessness for marginalised renters

Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions mean that all private renters are vulnerable to an eviction. There are however also groups that are at greater risk. Our 2023 research found that minority ethnic private renters were 36% more likely to have been threatened with an eviction than white British or Irish renters. Shockingly, almost half of all Black respondents had been threatened with an eviction.

An end to Section 21 evictions will grant all renters, but especially those from marginalised backgrounds, protection from arbitrary evictions and the risk of homelessness that comes with them.

Greater enforcement powers for local councils

New enforcement powers for local councils are also being introduced where fines of up to £30,000 or, in the most extreme cases, banning orders will be applied to landlords who do not bring their homes up to a decent standard.

Disrepair issues are commonplace within renting, but (once again) certain groups are more likely to experience the very worst of privately rented homes. Within the research previously mentioned, minority ethnic respondents were over twice as likely to have experienced faulty electrics and 50% more likely to report experiencing inadequate fire precautions than white British or Irish respondents. Meanwhile, respondents with a personal income of under £15,000 were 39% more likely to have experienced mould or damp compared to those with a personal income of £30,000 or over.

Greater powers in local councils being able to address these issues will help all renters, especially marginalised groups who experience the worst housing conditions.

Work still needs to be done

The Renters (Reform) Bill will do a lot to help address the discrimination in renting. However, more needs to be done before we finally end housing inequality for good.

The government must:

  • End Right to Rent checks –

Landlords are legally required by the government to check their tenant’s immigration status to confirm that they have a right to rent in the UK. Right to Rent checks enable the discrimination of migrant peoples in the UK. Landlords should not be forced and encouraged to play the roles of border guards. Right to Rent creates a climate of fear amongst landlords, making many unwilling to rent to migrants, even if they do have the right to rent in the UK. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found that it takes twice as long for BME and migrant peoples to find a home to rent compared to a white British person.

  • Ensure that victims of domestic abuse are protected from eviction –

The government is seeking to make it easier to evict tenants accused of anti-social behaviour by their landlords with the Renters (Reform) Bill. This is especially concerning for victims of domestic abuse as often abuse is mistaken for anti-social behaviour. We must work to ensure that victims of abuse are not kicked out of their homes and threatened with homelessness.

  • Make rents affordable for people who claim benefits –

While we are seeing some big positives in addressing the discrimination of people who claim benefits, the fact remains that they are simply too low for many people to find safe and secure homes. We have been campaigning on this issue and the government announced in November 2023 that they would be increasing Local Housing Allowance (LHA), which is the part of Universal Credit that benefit claimants use to pay the rent, to cover the bottom 30% of rents. However, this does not go far enough, and LHA must be enough to cover actual rents. The government must also scrap the benefit cap, and restore funds for local councils to give money to people to cover renting costs.

Despite the promising steps forward in the Renters (Reform) Bill, we will continue to campaign for an end to housing inequality and work to ensure that everyone can access quality, secure and affordable housing.


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