A national renter manifesto has been created by renters and housing justice campaigners from across England, to be launched in time for the General Election.
The manifesto has been written by Generation Rent, London Renters Union, ACORN, New Economics Foundation, Renters’ Rights London and Tenants Union UK. It calls for radical reform of the private renting sector (PRS) and a transformation of the housing system. This includes the abolition of Section 21 evictions, the introduction of rent controls and an end to discrimination of tenants on housing benefits.
England’s PRS is home to 11 million people. This amounts to one in four families. There are a number of issues that need desperate attention, such as one in seven private rented homes being unsafe and high rents meaning just 63% of private tenants having savings.
Generation Rent has identified 47 seats in England with a higher than average private renter population and a parliamentary majority of less than 5000 votes. In these seats, which include those of Cabinet ministers Robert Buckland (South Swindon), Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) and Alok Sharma (Reading West), private renters could cast the deciding vote.
Maddie Moore, 32, from Malvern, was evicted by her landlord at 6 months’ pregnant. Maddie said: “I was 6 months’ pregnant when my landlord told me I had to leave. I had no choice but to move away from friends and family at a time when I needed them most – the experience left me alienated and isolated for the rest of my pregnancy and the first months of motherhood.
“Section 21 leaves families and pregnant women with no protection against eviction – I hope all parties will be thinking about how to protect renters at this election.”
Dan Wilson Craw, Director of Generation Rent, commented: “The security of homeownership is closed off to millions of people who cannot save when their wage increases are simply swallowed up by the rent.
Private renters are growing older and raising children in insecure, expensive homes, and will be thinking about this on the way to polling stations on 12 December. Any party that wants to run the country must offer renters stable and affordable homes, and this manifesto sets out how to deliver that.”
Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of New Economics Foundation said: “Private renting is broken – unaffordable, insecure and often unsafe. This manifesto outlines the policies we need to fix our housing system, and improve conditions for the millions of private renters in the UK.
“The demand for change in private renting is growing, and the size of the renters’ vote is hugely influential. Political parties would be foolish to ignore this.”
Nick Ballard, National Organiser of ACORN Community Union said: “Landlords up and down the country benefit from and contribute to the country’s acute housing crisis by restricting access to housing through ever-higher rents. In the absence of rent controls, they have monetised the human need for shelter and turned homes into assets.
“Restricting supply of a universal need at times of crisis is profiteering. This needs to change. The next government must cap rents at 30% of local income, put a stop to the financialisation of housing and create a national database of landlords and rents to ensure decent, dignified and affordable housing for all.”
Amina Gichinga, of London Renters Union said: “Unaffordable rents are leaving people fighting to survive, with little left over for food or other essentials, and are forcing people away from their communities.
“At this election, the UK’s 11 million renters urgently need rent controls so that no one has to pay more than a third of their income on rent. We need a housing system that works for people not profit.”