Is Onward's policy Right to Buy for private renters?
Right to Buy was electoral gold dust to the Conservatives back in the 1980s, but since council homes were sold off unreplaced, and the social housing sector dwindled, it has lost its lustre. With housing policy the key to winning over today’s 18 to, er, 45 year olds, it’s no wonder some in the party have taken up alchemy.
Onward, a think tank peopled by former government advisers, thinks it has the answer, which is about as close to Right to Buy for private tenants as we’re likely to get. Because the property is not the state’s to sell, it’s merely Chance to Buy.
May removes yet another obstacle to council home building
This week has been the Conservative Party's conference, and their chance to match Labour's pledges to abolish Section 21 and seed-fund renters' unions.
There is a lot of worry among the party faithful that they are not doing enough about housing - the defining political issue of a generation. But with consultation responses on security being scrutinised by officials back in Whitehall, and Help to Buy facing negative attention, their options were narrow.
Mayor of London backs indefinite tenancies
At the Labour party conference this week, delegates adopted a motion to (among other things) "Help private renters with an end to ‘no fault’ evictions, controls on rents and new minimum standards, including three year tenancies as standard."
The BBC reported on this commitment, but beyond the wording of this motion and John Healey's speech, we haven't had any more detail of what this would entail.
Luckily, Sadiq Khan has obliged. While the Mayor of London is not a member of the Shadow Cabinet, last week's publication of his response to the government's consultation on longer tenancies revealed that he is calling for much the same thing, plus some more idea of what it might look like in practice.
Labour signs up to #endsection21
We kind of knew this already, but Labour is officially backing our campaign to end Section 21 and will scrap landlords' ability to evict tenants without giving a reason. It was reported by the BBC this morning, was part of the shadow Housing Secretary John Healey's speech in the conference centre, and then a motion on housing that included it was passed.
This follows members of the End Unfair Evictions doing a lot of work behind the scenes to successfully get local Labour parties to support the motion.
An even bigger piece of news was a £20m pot to jumpstart tenants' unions in the UK, reported by the Independent.
Before you rent: How to protect your legal rights
Finding a flat to rent in England can be tough. The stress only compounds when things don’t go as planned. When I lived in London, I got caught out when my landlord insisted on “renegotiating” the tenancy terms after I had paid a holding deposit (a troublingly common practice in the market).
Here are twelve things tenants can do to protect their rights, which helped me succeed in my legal claim against my landlord.
Cabinet split over tenancy reform
On Wednesday, the Sun reported that 10 Downing Street and the Treasury are blocking moves to legislate for longer tenancies.
Although the recently closed consultation left open the question of making the new tenancy mandatory or voluntary, the same newspaper had previously reported that the Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, wanted all tenants to get it.
That sets up a big internal government battle over tenants' rights as the Conservative Party worries more and more about winning over younger voters.
Public backs better security for renters
As the consultation period on the government's proposals for longer tenancies draws to a close - the deadline to respond is this Sunday - we are handing in our End Unfair Evictions petition to the Ministry of Housing today. It passed 50,000 signatures on Tuesday, helped along by #VentYourRent.
And if that wasn't enough to make the government pay attention, new polling from Survation finds that our demands have the backing of the wider public, including Conservative voters.
No-fault evictions drive up homelessness
Section 21 is the leading cause of statutory homelessness. This law allows evictions with no reason needed, and this is one more reason why we should scrap it.
To some extent, this is stating the bleeding obvious. Since 2012, the end of a private tenancy has been the leading cause of homelessness cases accepted by local authorities, but until now no one has specifically pointed the finger at Section 21. Today, we've been able to demonstrate it.
Source: Ministry of Housing
Proof that millions of renters are failed by unfair rental laws
The latest English Housing Survey was out last week, and the results are further evidence for what we’ve been arguing for years: England’s rental laws are making life insecure and expensive for growing numbers of people.
Four early victories for the End Unfair Evictions campaign
It is less than a month since we launched our joint campaign - with ACORN, the New Economics Foundation and the London Renters Union - to end section 21 no-fault evictions, and we've already had some major successes.
Here are four things we can celebrate already.
A victory on tenant security, but the campaign continues
After reports in the Sunday papers, late yesterday afternoon the Ministry of Housing published its long-awaited consultation paper on "Overcoming Barriers to Longer Tenancies in the Private Rented Sector".
It allows us a moment to celebrate the first success of the End Unfair Evictions campaign: an acceptance by the government that private tenancy law is failing England's tenants - just as our petition passes 40,000 signatures.
Leaving the detail of the policy to one side for now, it is significantly the first time the government has considered a change to tenancy law. Up to now ministers have been talking of merely "encouraging" landlords to offer better terms - while most landlords might do this, a lot of tenants would get no benefit. We have been arguing that we need full reform and, while incentives are still an option, mandatory reform is now on the table.
Protection from revenge evictions a postcode lottery
This week we launched the End Unfair Evictions coalition with ACORN, London Renters Union, and New Economics Foundation. We're calling for an end to Section 21, which allows landlords to evict tenants without needing a reason.
One reason we're doing is that existing protections are not working in practice.
Back in 2014/15, we fought a hard campaign alongside Shelter, GMB Young London and others to give tenants basic protection from eviction when they complained about their landlord.
The resulting measures in the Deregulation Act 2015 stopped landlords from serving a Section 21 eviction notice to tenants if the council had found hazards in the property and served an appropriate improvement notice on the owner. This protection lasted for 6 months and was meant to give tenants more confidence in getting their landlord to fix health and safety problems, because the landlord can no longer simply retaliate by kicking them out.