#ventyourrent: a round-up
On 26th April, we launched a social media campaign called #ventyourrent on Twitter and Tumblr. We asked people to tell us on cardboard, a photo, or just a tweet, what they were paying in rent and what it bought them.
The plan was to get Londoners sharing their worst experiences of renting and generating some solidarity ahead of the Mayoral Election on 5th May. We hoped that seeing the posts would get people thinking about the housing market as a political issue that they could have some influence on. If they did, we had a handy guide for them.
It was the first campaign of its kind that we have attempted and we could not have done it without the energy of a crack team of volunteers*, the guidance of Paolo Gerbaudo of Kings College London, and the inspiration of Pierre-Emmanuel Lemaire, Yasmina Aoun, Cong Bi and Nicola Lotter of Central St Martin's MA Communication Design course.
It was a huge success, generating our biggest media story to date, attracting hundreds of submissions, and surely contributing at least a tiny bit to the highest ever turnout for a London Mayoral Election.
Now that the dust has settled, we decided to find out what #ventyourrent taught us.Read more
Wales passes a new Rented Homes Act
The Renting Homes Act for Wales passed through the Assembly at the end of 2015, but the end result was quite different from the initial Bill.
The Welsh Assembly has 60 Assembly Members (AMs) but the Welsh Labour Government only holds 30 of those seats. That means that every Bill has to have approval from one of the opposition parties – Plaid or the Lib Dems– or it won’t go through.Read more
MPs to debate making rented homes fit for humans
When a tenant has a landlord who refuses to make repairs to the property, the local council should be their next port of call. Unfortunately, local council environmental health teams are woefully under-resourced and many cases of unsafe housing slip through the net - there are an estimated 16% physically unsafe privately rented homes.
Where the council doesn't take action, it is technically possible for the tenant to take their landlord to court - but only if their rent is below £80 - a year. There is a requirement for landlords to ensure that homes are fit for human habitation but it's limited to rent levels last set in 1957.
Karen Buck MP is setting out today to change that.Read more
55 people living in 3 homes. Fifty five.
Just when you thought you'd heard all the horror stories that the housing crisis had to offer, Barking & Dagenham Council raises the stakes. In raids yesterday morning with police, council officers found 55 people living in three houses, including 11 children.
Two of the homes had three bedrooms, but residents were crammed into every space possible, including a loft and a shed at the third property.Read more
The government's immigration folly overshadows good work to tackle rogue landlords
Today the government announced a raft of measures that will be in the Housing Bill that being is being prepared for Parliament later this year.
Sadly much of the focus was on the extension of the duty to all landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. We’ve already expressed our opposition to this policy elsewhere, but it is particularly galling that this is being taken forward when there has been no public analysis of the West Midlands ‘pilot scheme’, and other groups have seen cases of it increasing discrimination in lettings.
Despite this policy dominating the headlines, though, the Department for Communities and Local Government has also announced more welcome plans to improve the systems for tackling rogue landlords.Read more
Criminal landlord database shows what protections we still need
Environmental Health News (EHN) has done us all a huge service by publishing a list of landlords with convictions for housing offences.
For the first time we know the 2,006 companies and individuals who have been successfully prosecuted, but this figure is dwarfed by the 740,000 private rented households estimated to have hazards dangerous to human health. And the landlords in question get away with fines that hardly make a dent on the income they get from rents.
This has to stop.Read more
Bills announced to reform private renting
Parliament has announced the 20 Private Member's Bills that are being introduced today, and they include three on housing.
Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North, has introduced the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, which will amend a law from the 1980s to ensure that rented properties meet certain standards. We think this is a huge opportunity to give tenants the protection they need from unscrupulous landlords and agents - and finally bring renting into the 21st century. Karen is a longtime campaigner on housing so we'll work hard to support her as she takes the Bill through Parliament.Read more
Renters left behind by attempts to fix the housing crisis
Serial renter and Splittable contributor Tom Bowers explains what motivated him to make renting better.
I am, among many things, a member of generation rent. With my A levels burning a hole in my back pocket I took the logical step out of my family home on the outskirts of Liverpool and took up residence at university. I moved into a three-storey halls of residence, which was heated by a gas oil burner that made all of my belongings smell of paraffin. "All your clothes stink", my mum would say whenever I came home, "even your laptop smells". I took no notice; all I could smell was freedom.Read more
Landlord Licensing – giving with one hand, taking with the other.
It was announced this week that the Government was protecting tenants by improving fire safety regulations in the private rented sector. However, at the same time they are making it more difficult for councils to introduce borough-wide landlord licensing that help to protect tenants from rogue landlordsRead more
Is your landlord safe?
A new national database, naming private landlords who have been convicted of safety breaches has been created by our friends over at Environmental Health News, the magazine of the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health’s magazine. This follows a ruling by the information commissioner that the Ministry of Justice must release its list of property firm convicted under the Housing Act 2004 – initially the MOJ refused.Read more