A year to change the law
16 Mar 2015
Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister gave a speech about housing. You may have noticed that Shelter had a lot of opinions about that speech…
But amidst the detail on Starter Homes, David Cameron proudly announced that his government are putting an end to revenge eviction:
“What’s more, we are outlawing ‘retaliatory evictions’, so tenants don’t face the prospect of losing their home simply for asking that repairs be made.”
And today, they did just that. The Deregulation Bill passed its final hurdle in the Houses of Parliament. Revenge eviction will soon be against the law.
Those of you who have been with us on this journey, will know it has been lengthy and complicated.
On 12th March 2014 we launched the ‘9 million renters’ campaign – almost a year ago to the day. This campaign had one simple ask: to stamp out revenge eviction in the private rented sector.
Working with our front-line advisers; our legal team; and our friends at Citizens Advice and the Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) we devised a legislative solution.
Since then, we’ve seen:
- A government consultation (April 2014): a chance for us to make the case for change.
- A private members bill (July 2014): a political opportunity – thanks to Sarah Teather MP – that the government could not ignore.
- A government endorsement (September 2014): a government commitment to securing legislative change.
- Heartbreak (November 2014): a bump in the road – courtesy of Mr Chope and Mr Davies.
- A lifeline (December 2014): another political opportunity – thanks to the Liberal Democrat front bench in the House of Lords.
- A government bill (February 2015): a further government commitment to securing legislative change.
- A brand new law, outlawing revenge eviction (March 2015).
In the space of a year, we’ve changed the law.
This has been the product of a lot of hard work, by a lot of people: Shelter and our wonderful supporters; Sarah Teather MP; the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG); parliamentarians from all the major political parties; and a broad coalition of organisations.
By working together to seize opportunities and overcome barriers, this appalling practice has finally received the political attention it deserves.
It is not the panacea to fix private renting, but make no mistake – it is a significant step change.
But not only that, we’ve witnessed a seismic shift in political attitudes too.
To get an idea of how much has changed in a year: when this campaign started, it was called ‘9 million renters’. According to the latest English Housing Survey, there are now 11 million renters in England. Over 1.5 million families with children rent their home from a private landlord.
Politicians can no longer afford to ignore the daily struggle that many renting families face.
Labour have put reform of the private rented sector at the heart of their offer to voters, pledging to introduce longer-tenancies in their first Queen’s Speech. David Cameron used a major campaign speech to solicit the votes of renters. And the Liberal Democrats have been quick to capitalise on their efforts to end revenge eviction.
- The Deregulation Bill will receive formal Royal Assent at the end of March, just before Parliament dissolves for the General Election.
- It will then need a commencement order to bring it into force – this will happen after the General Election, probably in October 2015.
- Before this happens, we’ll do everything we can to educate tenants of their new rights – and landlords of their new responsibilities.
- But most importantly, we need to keep campaigning. Renters are now a political force to be reckoned with – and there is a lot more for us to do. A lot of promises have been made ahead of the General Election. Let’s use the next Parliament to hold politicians to account and make sure everyone who rents privately has a safe, stable home.