To borrow a phrase from Kevin Bacon, the government’s decision to tackle revenge eviction is a ‘no-brainer’. Or, as one recent observer termed it ‘gold-dust’ policy. One of those rare polices that as well as being extremely popular, also makes a lot of sense and costs nothing.
9 million people now rent their home privately. This includes 1.3 million families with children.
These families increasingly accept that they’ll be renting for the long term – but this doesn’t mean they are happy about it. Almost a third of renters with children (30%) believe they’ll be renting for the rest of their lives. Yet 69% say their main reason for renting is because they have no other choice.
A generation of families feel stuck in poor quality, unstable private rented homes; unsurprisingly housing is now a regularly a top five voter concern.
These voters are up for grabs. A recent poll, conducted on behalf of Generation Rent, found that 35% of private renters are floating voters.
And their political power is growing. The number of MPs with more constituents that rent rather than own their home has risen from 38 in 2001 (6% of MPs) to 65 in 2011 (10%). If this trend continues, renters will start to outnumber home owners in 104 seats by 2021.
Voters are angry.
The scandal of ‘revenge eviction’ is something that particularly exercises renters and voters. Over 17,000 people signed our petition calling on the government to end this practice. And thousands of our supporters have emailed their MP over the past couple of weeks, asking them to vote in Friday’s debate. Just talking about the issue, opened the flood gates.
You only have to glance at this Mumsnet thread to see how impassioned many parents feel about the instability of private renting. Shelter found that a heart-breaking 44% of renting parents believe their children would have a better childhood if they had more stability in their home.
But they believe politicians have the power to fix this.
In a YouGov survey for Shelter (which polled 3000 English adults) we found that 83% of renters think ‘the government has a responsibility to make sure that private renters do not live with a threat of eviction or sudden rent rises’.
But it is not just renters that feel so strongly. As more and more young families are priced out of homeownership, their parents’ generation fret about the unstable conditions forced on their children and grandchildren. The same survey found that almost three quarters (72%) of people who own their home outright agree.
Even landlords overwhelmingly support the need for new measures to tackle revenge eviction. Three-quarters of 1,059 landlords surveyed for us by BDRC Continental Research in September 2014 agreed that measures should be put in place to prevent rogue landlords from evicting tenants in retaliation.
More and more people are renting – and this isn’t about to change. Families will be spending the rest of their lives in private rented homes; they rightly expect politicians to stand up for them, and make sure their children have a safe and decent home. That is why taking on revenge eviction makes so much sense.
So, what’s to lose?
I often find, when explaining revenge eviction to someone who doesn’t rent, their first reaction is a shocked ‘but isn’t that illegal?!’. Followed up with ‘well, that’s absurd’.
To them, it is a no-brainer.
We hope these MPs recognise just what a no-brainer this is, and honour their pledge to turn up. There will be 9 million renters waiting to thank them if they do.
This Friday, 28th November MPs will debate whether to vote in favour of the Tenancies (Reform) Bill and end revenge eviction for good. The government announced their support for the bill in September, but MPs from all parties still need to turn up and support it.