2022 will soon be over so before the year ends we thought it would be a good idea to look back on all the highlights from the past year.
1: Government finally published plans for reforming renting
After years of waiting, and a visit to Downing Street, in June this year the government published its Renters Reform White Paper setting out how the government would reform the private rented sector across England to deliver a fairer deal. This included the commitment to end Section 21 no-fault evictions, the creation of a Property Portal – aka national register of landlords, which had been announced earlier in the year – the creation of an Ombudsman for landlords and making private landlords subject to the Decent Homes Standard. Read what we thought about the proposals.
We are still waiting for the Renters Reform Bill which is needed to put all of this into law.
2: Our research revealed shortcomings of tenancy system in Scotland
One part of the reforms that needs close attention is what happens when a landlord evicts their tenant with an intention to sell - but then simply re-lets. Our analysis of tribunal cases in Scotland indicates that this happens a lot, and more landlords should be selling with sitting tenants. The plans for England address these but we think they need to go further.
3: We found that current plans to prevent rent increases are too weak
The government plans to use the rent tribunal to stop renters being hit by excessive rent increases after Section 21 is scrapped. We looked at recent decisions by the tribunal and warned that without further protections, renters could still be faced with unaffordable rent increases. In recent years, the average annual rent increase awarded by the tribunal was 5.5% - more than wage and consumer inflation.
4: Half of private renters have faced a rent increase in the past year
Beyond the government’s legislative agenda, the big renting news this year was the fierce competition for new tenancies and rents shooting up by 12% on 2021. We ran two surveys (one in July, one in November) which found that increasing numbers of renters have been asked to pay a higher rent in the past year, and the size of this increase is also rising. Despite the raging cost of living crisis, paying rent is the biggest concern of renters and we are calling for a rent freeze (like that already introduced in Scotland) to protect renters’ finances.
5: 29 homes lost to the holiday sector every day
The housing crisis has got dramatically worse in recent years in areas popular with holidaymakers – locals cannot find a place to live because so many homes are becoming second homes or holiday lets. Our report in May showed how rents surged in Wales and South West England in 2021 as rental listings fell. Then this month we got hold of figures that found nearly 11,000 homes became holiday lets or second homes between 2021 and 2022 – that’s 29 per day.
After pressure in Parliament, the government is planning to introduce a register of tourist accommodation, and examine planning controls to deal with the problem. We’ll continue campaigning on this in 2023.
6: Renters paying the price for landlords’ failure to insulate homes
The news this year has been dominated by the war in Ukraine and the resulting rise in gas prices. Private renters are at a high risk of living in poorly insulated homes and so are currently paying over the odds to stay warm this winter. 6% are living in homes so bad they are illegal to let out, costing £321m more to heat than they should, according to our research in May.
7: Sex for Rent report released
In December we released our shocking Sex for Rent report, detailing instances of tenants being asked for sexual favours in exchange for a reduced rent or no rent at all; being inappropriately touched or communicated to by their landlord and of landlords turning up unannounced to tenants' homes.
8: Huge disparities found in treatment of black renters
As part of our project to understand inequalities facing private renters with black, minority ethnic and migrant backgrounds, we published the results of a survey as part of Black History Month. Black renters were a lot more likely to be struggling during the cost of living crisis, facing poor conditions and threatened with eviction.
9: LGBTQ+ research with akt reveals shocking levels of discrimination in rental market
Our research with the LGBTQ+ charity akt, published during Pride Month, revealed the shocking levels of abuse and discrimination felt by LGBTQ+ people in the private rented sector. 7% of respondents felt they had been discriminated on the basis of their sexual orientation, 13% because of their gender identity and 48% of LGBTQ+ respondents were more likely to be forced to live in unsuitable housing.
10: Our second Renters' Rights Awareness Week was a great success
Last year we held the first Renters' Rights Awareness week. Thanks to the success of last year's RRAW and the request for a similar week of events to be held this year, we hosted a series of webinars on Zoom in October on several subjects including evictions and affording your rent. If you'd like to watch this year's and last year's webinars, click here.
11: Our report Ending the Disconnect highlighted the importance of renters knowing about their rights
Knowing all your rights as a renter can be difficult at times, especially if you don't know where to access relevant information. Our report Ending the Disconnect highlighted this with 69% of respondents being unaware that they could get help from their local council. The report sets out the best practise for councils and councillors for providing information to renters.
12: The Generation Rent Podcast launched
In May we launched the Generation Rent podcast with the first episode focusing on how renters could make sure their voices were heard during the local elections. Subsequent episodes covered holiday lets, energy efficiency and illegal evictions. They can all be found here.
That was our 2022 year in review.
We are looking forward to 2023 because we should hopefully see the Renters' Reform Bill be brought before Parliament.
With you we can make sure any new legislation is as powerful as possible, and ends all unfair evictions for good. Thank you for your continue support.
Have a lovely Christmas, Hanukkah or holiday, however you celebrate and a Happy New Year.
All of this is possible because of the generous support of our supporters. If you can, please donate to our Christmas appeal and share it with your friends and networks.