Longer tenancies – what next?

Longer tenancies – what next?

On 26 August the government closed its consultation on three-year tenancies. Over the course of seven weeks, our supporters took advantage of a golden window of opportunity to make the case for more secure housing.

If longer tenancies became law, every renter in England would be better off. Renters would no longer live with the insecurity of being bounced from one house to the next on 6-12 month contracts. Instead they’d have the chance to make a house a home and have a front door they could call their own.

Our supporters making the difference

It was important that our supporters came together to speak out in favour of longer tenancies. We knew that a powerful landlord lobby was mobilising, and while they may have the government’s ear, they cannot drown out the voices of thousands of our supporters.

When we launched this campaign, renters were being massively under-represented in the consultation. We wanted to give more renters the chance to get involved and allow all supporters the chance to take part. It was amazing to see everyone’s level of enthusiasm for longer tenancies, and the huge amount of engagement we saw over the course of the campaign:

  • nearly 6,000 supporters made their voices heard
  • 3,637 renters took part
  • supporters spent a combined 1,483 hours completing the survey. That’s 61 days!

Thank you to everyone who spent a lot of time taking part in the consultation – it really does make all the difference.  If people didn’t take part, we wouldn’t have a strong united voice in calling for longer tenancies being made into law.

Why longer tenancies are needed

Being evicted from a privately rented house is the single biggest cause of homelessness in England. Short term contracts do not give renters a safety net, while the process of being uprooted and moved from one property to the next can have a hugely detrimental effect on your mental health.

That’s why, as part of our campaign to get people to take part in the consultation, we asked the mental health charity Mind to put the case forward for stable housing. They wrote a fantastic blog for us and made it clear that three-year tenancies are a big step in the right direction.

Longer contracts not only allow people to have more security, they also give renters the reassurance they need to build a home without having to look over their shoulder. As part of our campaign, we collected testimonies from our supporters, and after hearing about their experiences of private renting, it’s clear more action must be taken:

‘I was asked to leave as we complained about a faulty boiler.’

‘I was evicted for reporting problems with condensation, mould and damp to the local council after the agent ignored repeated requests to deal with it.’

‘I was threatened with eviction while I was eight months pregnant and also had a 16-month-old child because I was two weeks late paying the electricity bill. I had tried to talk to the agency on the phone about the matter but got nowhere and then they sent a man round to my house making aggressive demands. I was very upset and scared.’

‘Being given two months notice from a landlord two months before Christmas with two children, I was asked to leave the property on 31 December.’

‘I complained about lice and rat infestation, mould, damp and leaks, and was thrown out of the property with just a month’s notice.’

What now?

The government has received our 5,953 contributions and will be adding them to the responses it also collected through its website. Typically, the government takes eight weeks to feedback on consultations, so we don’t expect to hear anything from the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, until after party conferences (the beginning of October).

However, the campaign for longer tenancies will continue beyond this consultation. All you need to do is look to Europe, and even across to the border to Scotland, to see alternative models of longer tenancies. Renters deserve the right to remain, and while three-year tenancies are an important step in the right direction, a lot more could be done to guarantee long-term security for renters in England.

Once the results of the consultation are released we will continue to fight for this to be made into law.  Our supporters will need to come together to make sure we can improve renting for everyone. This campaign is not yet over, so keep your eye peeled for our next campaign action.

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