What is Section 21 and why does it need to be scrapped?

Landlords can remove tenants without giving a reason. That’s unfair and it needs to change.

Most of England’s 11 million renters are on contracts with fixed terms of six months or a year; after this period has ended, landlords can evict their tenants with just two months’ notice – and without even giving them a reason. These ‘no fault evictions’ were introduced under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. Before this, private tenants had much greater security and it was much harder for landlords to evict tenants who paid the rent on time and looked after the property. The government has finally decided to consult on ways of improving renter security, but - while there are some promising aspects to their proposals - they suggest that no-fault evictions will remain. Generation Rent, the New Economics Foundation, ACORN and the London Renters Union are launching a campaign to abolish section 21.

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Disrupting the market to help tenants

The internet has already shaken up the music industry, television, taxis and self-catering holidays. Investors are now looking for the next industry to disrupt with technology and property seems ripe for the picking. 

As the national voice of private renters, we agree that the property industry as it stands fails its consumers in too many ways, so things need to change. Even when we succeed in changing the law, like the forthcoming letting fees ban, we still need to ensure that it's implemented properly and the industry adapts in the right way. 

But we can't allow slick and revolutionary new services or initiatives to simply treat tenants as cash cows in the same way that many letting agents and landlords currently do. So this is what we think the market needs - and how the tenant should benefit.

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Lodgers need protection too

Where’s my deposit? It is no joking matter for nearly 300,000 tenants whose landlord has not protected their deposit.

This has left many out of pocket without a clue of how they will manage to raise another deposit - the average amount in London stands at £1040 for their next property.

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Landlord licensing works - yet the government is delaying renewal of the most successful scheme

Since the east London borough of Newham introduced mandatory borough-wide licensing of all private landlords in 2013, improvements in the sector have been indisputable. Criminal landlords are being driven out of the borough, standards and safety in the sector have improved and enforcement has dramatically increased.

Yet with the scheme due to expire on 31 December 2017, government is now more than four weeks overdue in making a decision on approval of a new, five-year scheme, to start in the new year.

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Tory conference announcements pull punches on housing crisis

At the General Election in June, Labour won a majority of the votes of the under-40s. This was a wake-up call for the Conservative Party, many of whose members are now filled with a new urgency to address this cohort's biggest concerns - including a rather large house-shaped one.

Their annual conference has duly been bursting with new housing policies, particularly for private renters. But while they are (for the most part) improvements, the proposals fail to address the urgency of the housing crisis.

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How new rent controls could work

The biggest talking point of Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Labour Party conference this week was rent controls. Since 2014 Labour has been proposing to limit rises in rents during tenancies, but there was something different this time around.

This is what the Labour leader said on Wednesday:

We will control rents - when the younger generation’s housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents, that is not sustainable. Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want our cities to have those powers too and tenants to have those protections.

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Six reasons why today’s renters pay more than previous generations

The harsh reality of the UK’s sometimes savage housing market is that more people are renting their homes until later in life but paying more for the privilege of doing so than their parents did.

In England the number of private renters has increased from two million to 4.5 million between 1999 and 2015 while renting a home has been eating up a steadily increasing proportion of renters’ income, rising from 8% during the late 1960s to over 27% today, on average. Here we look at the key trends driving up rents across the nation in recent years.

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Landlord tax evasion - what do we know?

A few weeks ago, the London Borough of Newham revealed that 13,000 local landlords had failed to declare their rental income, prompting estimates that £200m of tax was being evaded in London alone.

Today, Parliament has published an answer from the Treasury Minister Mel Stride to Frank Field, who asked what assessment the government had made of this. The Minister directed him (and us) to this information on tax gaps (pp54-5).

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MPs debate letting fee ban

The ban on letting fees is currently the government's flagship policy to help renters, and we're currently waiting for a draft bill to be published, which follows a consultation that we and hundreds of our supporters responded to.

In the meantime, MPs gave us a taste of how the legislation will proceed in Parliament yesterday morning by debating the subject for the first time since last year's Autumn Statement.

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London Housing - a new opportunity to push for greater security

Delayed from August, this week saw the publication of the London Mayor's draft housing strategy, which is now open for consultation for three months.

Covering all housing policy from leasehold reform to tackling street homelessness, the strategy also has a specific section devoted to the private rented sector. With a quarter of London's children in the private rented sector, and millions of renters living in poverty, we all know how urgently action is needed.

We'll be coming back to parts of the strategy in the coming weeks, but here we just focus on the main headlines for renters.

The strategy builds on the Mayor's manifest commitment and previous public statements, and although the Mayor lacks the powers to fundamentally transform London's PRS, there are nonetheless some steps forward and potential to go further.

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The Other Waitrose Effect - the hidden costs of gentrification

Is a new Waitrose in your neighbourhood a cause for excitement, or a troubling omen for your future in the area? 

A new study reveals that the high-end supermarket is linked with rising evictions of private tenants in areas they open up in.

The analysis, conducted by Oxford University academic David Adler for Generation Rent, found that the arrival of a new store was associated with an increase in the number of evictions of between 25% and 50%.

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Great cheese selection, but will you be around to enjoy it?

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