Campaign group Generation Rent has set out a 10-point plan for reform of the private rental sector in favour of tenants.
Its demands are:
1. Ending what it calls “unfair evictions” and introducing indefinite tenancies: The activists in Generation Rent say: “It is not right that landlords can evict a tenant without giving a reason. Section 21 must be abolished, with indefinite tenancies becoming the norm. The government must make sure that tenants cannot be evicted through no fault of their own through other means in the new system, except in very limited circumstances.”
2. Support tenants when they are “forced to move”: The campaign goes on to state: “If landlords wish to evict a tenant to sell the property or live in it themselves, they must pay the tenant’s relocation costs to mitigate the disruption of an unwanted move.”
3. End so-called “automatic evictions for rent arrears”: “Renters should not face automatic eviction in the event of unforeseen economic shocks. The mandatory section 8 ground 8 should be removed, leaving landlords to use the discretionary ground 10 instead. Evictions should only take place as a last resort.”
4. Protect tenants from retaliatory rent hikes and economic evictions: “At present, there is very little to prevent unscrupulous landlords from raising the rent to force a tenant to leave the property. Economic evictions – rent rises which force an eviction- must be prevented, through limiting rent increases within tenancies.”
5. Introduce four-month notice periods and a permanent winter truce on evictions: “Longer notice periods will allow tenants to prepare for the upheaval of an unexpected move, and a pause on enforcement action in winter will protect vulnerable households from homelessness.”
6. Introduce a national register of landlords: Generation Rent claims that one in seven privately rented homes are unsafe and what it calls “criminal landlords” are rarely prosecuted. It adds: “A national register of landlords would drive up standards and keep renters safe. A new national regulator for private rented sector would oversee the running of the register.”
7. Make deposits fair: The campaign supports the Conservative proposal of so-called ‘lifetime deposit’ which it says should minimise upfront costs and prevent landlords from making false deductions.
8. Allow renters to make a house their own: “Renters should be free to make minor changes and improvements to their property, to ensure their house feels like a home. The government’s model tenancy agreement should be made mandatory to enable more renters to own pets.”
9. Allocate funding for local enforcement teams: “Annual ring-fenced budgets would enable council enforcement teams develop long-term enforcement plans and facilitate the return of Tenancy Relations Officers.”
10. Fund tenant engagement programmes to improve tenant awareness of their rights: “Raising tenant awareness is crucial in ensuring that tenants reap the benefits of new rights. The government must fund local authority engagement programmes to raise tenant awareness of the new rights afforded to them under new legislation, alongside existing rights.”
In the same report, Generation Rent director Baroness Alicia Kennedy says: “The government’s commitment to abolishing Section 21 means that landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants just for requesting repairs or on other spurious grounds. But without further protections tenants could still face hardship and homelessness if their landlord decides to sell up.
“It cannot be right for a housing provider to leave their customer in the lurch and expect tenants and taxpayers to pick up the bill. Renters can never enjoy a stable life if they can have the rug pulled from under them, so the government’s reforms must make sure renters get proper support during unwanted moves.”
Generation Rent claims that since April 2018 some 68,430 households have faced homelessness after they were evicted “to sell or re-let the property or in retaliation for a complaint.”
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.