In December 2017, Scotland introduced the open-ended Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) and powers for councils to introduce Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to protect tenants from rising rents.
As we await the Westminster government’s announcement on security of tenure for private renters in England, this is a good moment to look back at the Scottish tenancy reforms and consider what’s worked well, what’s not so good, and where next for the Scottish private renter movement.Read more
Happy tenants. Happy landlords. Longer tenancies and no unfair evictions. It’s all possible!
The 2018 English Private Landlords Survey (EPLS) – the first since 2010 – demonstrates that much-needed changes to the private rented sector, specifically to renter security, would have little or no effects on most landlords. The current system of rules reflects the interests and opinions of a small minority of landlords at the great expense of tenants who deserve better.
The EPLS surveyed 8000 landlords and letting agents and its findings were published last month. The questionnaire covered three main topics: landlord characteristics; their attitudes and behaviours; and, importantly, the future of the private rented sector.
What are some of the key findings and what do they mean for renter security?Read more
At the launch of the Affordable Housing Commission in October, the chair, Lord Best, a veteran of august commissions spanning the past 30 years, related an experience he’d had with one that was looking at The Future of the Family.
More than halfway into the process, its chair came to meet its sponsor (then plain old Richard Best) and admitted that they were a little behind schedule. They hadn’t managed to agree on a definition of “family”.
From the off, members of the commission – of which I am honoured to be one – are therefore highly conscious of the need to get the basics right. But not only do we need to know what “affordable” means (already the subject of much controversy in the housing world), but I think we also need to define “home”.Read more
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.Read more
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.
The bank even demands that landlords get a valuation of the market rent every time the tenancy is up for renewal and then "take all steps to ensure that the review [with the tenant] takes place and leads to the maximum increase in the rent which can reasonably be achieved."Read more
Private renters spend 40% of their income on rent, compared with owner occupiers whose mortgage payments average 20% of income, according to the Government's English Housing Survey published this morning.
That means that renters spend two days a week working to pay off their landlords mortgage - most would prefer to be paying off their own, but house prices are far too expensive. It's hard to see how this could be characterised as anything other than exploitation.
An initial set of figures for 2012-13 was published in February - today's more detailed look reveals that:
- Only half of private renters agree that living in their sector is a good way to occupy a home, rather lower than in the other two main tenure groups.
- 73% of private renters were aged under 45 compared with 37% of social renters and just one quarter (27%) of owner occupiers
- A fifth of private renters last year were couples with children - up from 12% in 2008-09
- Over half (55%) of private renters said they anticipated owning their own home in the longer-term. Around a quarter (27%) reported that they expected to still be renting from a private landlord in the longer-term.
Nearly half of private renters feel they have been ripped off by their landlord or letting agent, according to a poll commissioned by Ocean Finance (reported by Mortgage Introducer).
The biggest problem, cited by around half of unhappy renters, was the delay - or, indeed, complete failure - to get repairs carried out. This was followed by withholding of the deposit at the end of the tenancy (37%), or making unreasonable deductions from it (25%). Unreasonable rent rises and rip-off admin fees at the start of the tenancy affected around 23% of respondents.
These findings support work Generation Rent is already doing to improve the lives of renters. Only yesterday we published a consultation on new ways to help tenants recover their deposits.
We are also calling on politicians to strengthen tenants' rights when requesting repairs by protecting them from revenge evictions. Our proposals for a long term tenancy would ensure that landlords couldn't impose inflation-busting rent increases, while we argue that letting agents - who work for landlords - should not be able to pass on fees to tenants. Further information is in our Renters Manifesto.
Figures released by Generation Rent today add to the growing body of evidence that the private rented sector is failing tenants and needs to be reformed. Based on an opinion poll from ComRes, Generation Rent has found that the cost of rents continues to hit too many, with 39% of those polled cutting back on heating due to the cost of rent and a third reducing their spending on food. Affordability also keeps people stuck in private renting when they want to leave. Two thirds of renters say that the main reason they rent is because they cannot afford to buy their own home.