09 Oct 23

A collection of pressure groups, fronted by Generation Rent, wants all private rental homes going on sale to be offered first to councils or “community-led housing schemes.”

The groups are Generation Rent, New Economics Foundation, direct action advocates Acorn, plus the London Renters Union and Greater Manchester Tenants Union. And their spokesperson is Conor O’Shea, the policy and public affairs director at Generation Rent.

The groups have set out a manifesto calling for rent controls, an end to no-fault evictions, open-ended tenancies, tougher action on landlords with unsafe properties, tenancy reforms and – perhaps most controversially – bringing privately owned homes into public ownership.

The demands have been made on the eve of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool and include:

  • A clear commitment to giving local authorities and community-led housing schemes first refusal on private rented properties entering the market to buy them into public ownership;
  • An end to Section 21 evictions and, where landlords are allowed to get back their properties, relocation payments for tenants;
  • Any landlord selling must sell with a sitting tenant if they wish to stay; and all tenants must have an unspecified right to defend themselves against an eviction with access to legal aid;
  • Even lodgers and licensees should have stronger legal protections against evictions;
  • All tenancies should be open-ended for all tenants “so they can leave when they need to and can expect to stay as long as they like”;
  • No one should have to spend more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, with controls that bring rents down and maintain them at this level;
  • There should be mandatory national registration of all private landlords, agents, and rented properties;
  • All rented homes should be brought up to an EPC C or above, enforced by councils, with tenants entitled to claim rent back on homes that are not energy efficient;
  • Tenants should have the right to decorate their homes and have pets, and “cosmetic alterations and redecorating should not count towards deposit deductions”;
  • Local Housing Allowance must be unfrozen and “made immediately available to any tenant when they need to claim this”;
  • End Right to Rent and nationality requirements for social housing. There should be no immigration checks in licensing or enforcement regimes;
  • More specific provisions (which are not specified in the manifesto) for “LGBTQ+ people, those with mental health and learning disabilities, people with physical disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, migrant communities, asylum seekers and marginalised racial or ethnic groups (including People of Colour, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people)”;
  • Tenant unions should be consulted proactively by the government “and given a seat at the table when making decisions that will affect renters”;
  • End Right To Buy and “government investment in a huge public house building programme that should aim to deliver 3.1m council homes over 20 years”;
  • Holiday lets and short term lets must be “licensed and limited”. 

Generation Rent’s O’Shea says: “It’s clear Britain needs more homes but simply supporting developers to build lots of expensive market-rate housing won’t bring housing costs down to affordable levels for the millions of people trapped in poverty by sky-high rents. What renters really need is an ambitious public housing building program that delivers 3.1m council homes over 20 years and urgent action to fix the wild west private rented sector.”

“Britain’s 13m renters still face the constant threat of eviction, record rent rises and unsafe conditions. Our rigged housing system is a key cause of inequality.” 

“From Newcastle to Newham, all of us deserve an affordable home where we can live a good life with dignity. Promises to ramp up house building will take many years to deliver and people stuck in the private rented sector in the here and now urgently need proper protections from unfair eviction, eye-watering rent rises and dangerous disrepair. 

“Politicians across all parties are failing to tackle the power imbalance between landlords and tenants. They must listen to renters or risk deepening the crisis further.”

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