Next up is the Green Party’s manifesto. We assess whether the Green’s New Deal for housing helps make renting safe, secure and fair.
Safe and decent homes
The Green New Deal for Housing is the party’s flagship policy for the sector, based on the principle that “everyone should have a safe, affordable and warm place to call home.” The manifesto pledges to:
simultaneously reduce climate emissions, tackle fuel poverty and provide genuinely affordable housing. Ensure that all 8 million rented homes are A rated for energy efficiency, or as close to this as possible, by implementing a Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard escalator to raise the minimum level allowed from the current E rating to A rating by 2030
The party has acknowledged that reform of the private rented sector is essential in delivering green housing and eliminating fuel poverty. Private rented homes are least likely to be energy efficient, which is exacerbated by high levels of tenant churn (why ask for improvements if you don't know if you will be there to enjoy them), and measures to reduce this are welcome. Currently, landlords must meet the minimum EEC rating E – so bringing 4.5 million properties up to A in 10 years will be a huge challenge. The manifesto is light on detail on how else to ensure safety in the PRS. Given that one in seven privately rented homes is unsafe, we need measures to address this from all parties, through introducing licensing or a national register of landlords to improve standards and enable councils to enforce against rogue and criminal landlords letting unsafe properties.
Security of tenure
The Green Party have pledged to end Section 21 no-fault evictions, and were among the first parties to commit to this policy in 2018. Section 21 should be replaced with indefinite tenancies, which will ensure renters have the security they need to build a stable life. Generation Rent's analysis has found that no-fault evictions were responsible for 10% of all homelessness cases last year, and removing the mechanism that allows these evictions will benefit renters across the country.
Fairness & affordability
The Greens pledge more extensive interventions than perhaps any other party to make renting more affordable. They manifesto pledges to introduce introduce
rent controls on private tenancies, which reflect average local income rates and the cost of maintenance.
Two-thirds of renters have no savings whatsoever, so measures to reduce rents are welcome. The party does not specify at what rate the controls would be set, but measures which bring down rents to 30% of local income would make renting affordable for those on lower incomes and would allow renters to save for their futures. The proposed Land Value Tax on landowners would shift the burden of council tax from renters to landlords, further increasing the affordability of housing, and would help discourage the use of housing for profit over people. The party has also committed to building 100,000 homes for social rent, which would further bring down private rents through meeting overall demand.
The manifesto also pledges to introduce measures to promote the growth of community-led housing initiatives and housing co-ops, particularly for HMOs. Being able to make decisions relating to one’s home is vital for wider well-being, and housing co-ops could be a way of achieving this, allowing renters to improve their quality of life. Private renters should have more control over their homes, including the right to install aids and adaptations to make their homes accessible, to redecorate, and to keep pets, as we’ve called for in our Renters Manifesto.
Make sure renting is on your local candidates' radars - get involved at www.rentermanifesto.org