Renting families

Shelter has long been calling for wholesale reform of the private rented sector: it needs to become a better, more stable place to live.

In the first instance, we have to put a stop to  ‘revenge eviction’. We think Section 21 eviction notices should be reformed, so that renters who report poor conditions to their landlord or local authority are protected from retaliatory action. This will go some way towards giving renting families the stability they crave.

Section 21 notices are what landlords can use to evict renters after the fixed period of their tenancy has ended. A landlord can serve one of these notices without having to give any reason for doing so.

This current lack of stability can be devastating for renting families- and don’t just take my word for it.

Mumsnet, the online blogging platform, has recently been exploring the experiences of renting families. In response to this recent coverage, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins and Shadow Housing Minister Emma Hopkins addressed the site.

The resulting comment thread is a powerful window into the many difficulties renting families face– and an important example of why ending revenge eviction is so important: http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/guest_posts/2048736-Guest-post-I-know-Ill-never-own-my-home-but-does-renting-have-to-be-so-tough-on-families.

I’ve taken this opportunity to pull together a collection of the comments below:

‘Fielsted’ (whose blog post kick-started this whole discussion) said:

Council housing offered families secure tenancies, genuinely affordable rents, accommodation of an appropriate size and type and the opportunity to be part of a strong community. Contrast this with the experience of many families in the Private Rented Sector now where tenancies are frequently short-term or at least lack any assurance of their being longer; rents are high and are on the up; and moves are frequent due to a whole host of very negative factors.”

‘soleils7’ said:

Currently, a landlord can evict a tenant with two months’ notice and without having to provide a reason, even if the tenant has been exemplary. Think of what this means for a family, in terms of general upheaval and costs, and then getting the kids onto yet another school waiting list, hoping the children will settle and won’t feel bereft or distressed. It MUST be made more difficult for landlords to evict tenants.”

 ‘wonderstuff’ said:

I currently privately rent, I’m very lucky to earn a decent wage and be able to afford reasonable accommodation, but the insecurity is gut wrenchingly awful. My 6 year old is in house number 3, we’re moving in a fortnight to her fourth home. Thankfully my parents have helped and the next home we’ll own.”

‘Damnautocorrect’ said:

rent, it breaks my heart. I’m not exaggerating I genuinely get upset every hour of every day about it with tears most days. 

I send him off to school not knowing if in two months’ time where we will be so what school he will be at. 

We can’t decorate his room

He can’t have a pet, as this landlord allows it but the next might not. 

He can’t plant a bulb in the garden as he might not see it grow. 

Every decision from buying curtains to a trampoline ‘best not get too big one as our next garden might be small’, is related to renting.

To find out more about our 9 million renters campaign and to get involved visit: www.shelter.org.uk/9millionrenters

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