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.
New mayoral strategy develops plans for London's private renters
Two million tenants in London will welcome the fact that getting a fairer deal for private renters is one of the Mayor of London’s five priorities for housing in the London Housing Strategy, which was published at the end of May. Given that Sadiq Khan’s housing powers are highly limited, what is his strategy promising to private renters in London?
MPs vote to ban fees
The Tenant Fees Bill had its second reading in Parliament on Monday evening, where it was debated at length by MPs before being passed unanimously through to committee stage. All the issues that we’ve raised as a concern – default fees, the deposit cap, enforcement of the ban on letting fees – were brought up by MPs in the course of the debate.
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.
New staff join the Generation Rent team
We're pleased to announce some big news at Generation Rent - with the award of three new grants, our campaign's future has been secured for the next three years and we have been able to expand the team with two new members of staff.
We also have three new board members, including a new chair, Ian Mulheirn.
Letting fees ban moves closer - but loophole remains
Good news for hard-pressed private renters facing rip off fees from letting agents.
The Government has introduced the Tenant Fees Bill into Parliament, which aims to ban the fees commonly charged by letting agents for new tenancy agreements. This is part of the Government’s promise to make private renting cheaper and fairer and it’s a much-needed piece of legislation, especially as a quarter of us in the UK will rent privately by 2021.
Cross-party groups give their verdicts on renting
This week we’ve had two reports from the political mainstream calling for a better deal for renters. They add to the pressure we’ve been putting on the government to improve tenant security – and though we contributed to both, they don’t quite go as far as we’d like.
The first was from the Resolution Foundation, a think tank chaired by Conservative peer David Willetts and run by Torsten Bell, previously adviser to former Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Government launches secret landlord blacklist
Landlords get to ask tenants for a reference, but there's no way we can check what a prospective landlord is like. That's why we've long been calling for a central database that names and shames criminal landlords.
From today we've got one. But there's a catch: only local councils can access it.
Fees ban concerns remain as Bill completes first stage
The Commons Housing Committee has published its report on the Draft Tenants' Fees Bill today, making recommendations to the government for when it formally introduces the Bill to Parliament.
Generation Rent, along with charities, landlord groups, local councils and other industry organisations, gave evidence to the inquiry earlier in the year. There were positive outcomes on rents and deposits, but more work is needed to make sure the ban covers all fees - and that it's enforced properly.
Here's a summary of what we asked for - and what we got.
Making deposits work for tenants
One reason the housing market is so stacked against renters is the high cost of taking our business elsewhere, so one of the ways we can make renters more powerful is to make moving house easier.
As our research site lettingfees.co.uk discovered, a typical household could save £404 when they move once the letting fees ban comes in. But a bigger cost - in the short term at least - is the damage deposit worth up to six weeks' rent.
We estimate that 86% of renters get most or all of their deposit back, but only after they've already moved into a new home, so achieving that involves raiding their savings, or borrowing money.
That's why today we're calling on the government to start allowing renters to transfer part of their deposit to a new home once they've paid the final month's rent.
Planned shake-up of rental market complaints system
Last October, Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities (and now Housing) said that he wanted to start requiring landlords to join a redress scheme if they did not already use a letting agent.
The government is now consulting on plans for this. The good news is it is considering doing away with the three different schemes tenants have to navigate when they have a complaint at the moment.