Renters' manifesto challenges politicians to reform PRS and fix housing crisis
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Regulation
rentImage: rent via Shutterstock
A newly released renter’s manifesto has challenged politicians to come up with solutions to fix the housing crisis.
Produced by campaign group Generation Rent, the Renters’ Manifesto proposes:
• Reform of the private rented sector - which it claims fails millions of renters now "stuck” within it - with the right to a five-year tenancy and professionalization of landlords and letting agents.
• A new housing market that allows buyers to opt-out of rising house prices - which the group claims could end the housing crisis.
• A new government department with a remit to fix the housing crisis and save the taxpayer billions.
• A national register of landlords to help government improve standards and tackle rogue landlords.
• Licensing of letting agents to bring the profession into line with estate agents.
• Reform decency standards and require landlords to prove they meet them.
GR says that there enough private renters with no party allegiance to overturn the majority in 86 constituencies at next year’s general election - and the group claims that its manifesto offers political parties policies that will help them win over this "newly important electorate".
Alex Hilton, GR director, said: “Private renting is a second-class tenure, treated by government more as an investment vehicle for a small minority than a place to live for nine million people. Despite policies to help renters into home ownership, the majority of us will be renting for many years to come. We need a place we can call home – something that owner occupiers take for granted.
“Long term tenancies benefit both tenants and landlords who can not only better plan their finances but work together without suspicion to keep the property in good repair. The next government must enshrine the right to a long tenancy into law, otherwise letting agents will simply block them and continue to cream off renewal fees.”
The campaign group is also calling on the government to build houses that can only be sold on for a limited increase in price - which is says would deter speculators and ensure that people could buy a home for little more than the cost of building it.
Alex Hilton said: “As speculators have snapped up London’s houses, prices have risen so far people living and working here have simply given up on ever buying a home. Most people want to buy somewhere to live, not something they can flip for a profit, and this is what our bubble-free housing market offers them.”
However, the manifesto has displeased the National Landlords Association, whose CEO, Richard Lambert, said: “Today Generation Rent has released first class propaganda in order to support their assertions that tenants in the UK receive a second class service from their landlord.
“No one should have to put up with poor property standards or live in fear of their tenancy ending but the UK private rented sector is not at crisis point by any stretch of the imagination.
“Far from renters experiencing a second class service, our research findings match those from government and academia which show that seven in 10 tenants are happy with their property.
“Generation Rent seems to overlook the fact that tenancy durations are determined largely by tenants, not landlords. Like any other business landlords want happy customers and steady income and it’s simply not the case that they look to evict their tenants at the first opportunity.
“The number of tenants who lose their homes through so called ‘revenge evictions’ represents 0.1% of households who rent privately. Far from indicating a market failure, it actually shows that Generation Rent is well off the mark.
“What we need is for councils to tackle bad landlords and force them out of the private rented sector. In 2012 fewer than 500 landlords were prosecuted; compare this with the 155,000 people prosecuted for not having a TV licence. It is down to local and central government to prosecute publically and effectively to make it clear that ignoring property standards is already illegal and that powers exist to tackle it."