If the Renters’ Reform Bill was an Outlook task, it would have all the tags: “sent with high importance”, “flagged”, “overdue”. It’s been sitting at the top of the government’s inbox for over 1,400 days.
The government first promised to ban section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions on 15 April 2019. This weekend marked the fourth anniversary of that unfulfilled promise (read our blog post on that). In June 2022, the ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ White Paper laid out what would be included in the Renters’ Reform Bill. Since then, we have heard all sorts of promises about when this will actually materialise: “in this parliament”, “in this parliamentary session”, “as soon as parliamentary time allows”.
While the government continues to stall, renters continue to pay extortionate rents for sub-par properties where they live under the constant threat of eviction. And they’ve had enough. This is why a group of private renters from across the country have come together to take a stand. Meet the Renting Champions – Michelle, Dave, Olly and Nick – the campaigners speaking truth to power on behalf of England’s 10 million private renters.
The Renting Champions have written an open letter to Secretary of State for Housing, Michael Gove MP, demanding that the government stop stalling and bring forward the Renters’ Reform Bill before parliament rises for summer recess on 20 July. You can sign their open letter and read their stories, where they talk about the issues they have faced in the private rented sector and why change is so desperately needed. Let’s take a look at some of those issues now…
Disrepair, damp, and mould
Poor conditions pervade the private rented sector, from damp and mould to electrical hazards and faulty plumbing. These issues can cause serious health problems for renters who have no choice but to live with them.
“We vacated the bedroom after a build-up of black mould. We have been sharing a box room with our children since November last year. My son has developed a breathing issue and been off school sick for weeks on end, my daughter has a skin condition, and my asthma is at a crisis point.”Nick
The situation often only gets worse over time, when bad landlords refuse to dig into their pockets to pay for much-needed repairs.
“I’ve experienced bad renting myself: landlords who don’t communicate with you, repairs never getting done.”Michelle
Sometimes, asking for repairs can mean a section 21 eviction notice landing on your doorstep from a landlord who would rather find new tenants than repair their property. New research published by Shelter last month revealed that 25% of private renters have not asked their landlord for repairs to be carried out or conditions improved for fear of being evicted. And renters who do complain, either to their landlord, letting agent, or local council, are two and a half times more likely to be handed an eviction notice than those who keep quiet. The government’s unfulfilled promises to reform private renting are leaving millions of people trapped in dire conditions, powerless to do anything about it without risking eviction.
No-fault evictions and the insecurity of private renting
As long as section 21 exists, renters live with the possibility of imminent eviction looming over them. Through ‘no-fault’ of their own, they can end up with just eight weeks to up sticks, find a new place to live – and the finances to support it.
“I have been section 21 evicted twice in four years. You are always at risk of getting that section 21 through the post with no warning”Dave
The cost of living crisis has made this all worse: spiralling rents make it impossible for renters to save and mean that, if evicted, they face the genuine possibility of homelessness if they cannot find an affordable property to move to.
“The private renting sector is completely unaffordable and is a trap for a lot of families with no way out or opportunity to save for a rainy day, let alone a deposit to buy, or even if they lose their deposit to re rent.”Olly
Living with this constant stress and worry – and having to move around often – makes it hard to build a home, raise a family, and establish ties to a community. It has a serious impact on children’s education and on renters’ mental health.
“My anxiety levels have been massively impacted by knowing that my family could be made homeless, we may be unable to keep our jobs, the children might have to change their schools if we are forced to leave the area. We built our life as we know it around this house, our home.”Nick
Even aside from unaffordability, all sorts of invisible barriers can stand in the way of renters finding somewhere to live.
“I am in my 50s with a disability. Once I got the section 21, I then faced months of stress finding a new place to live, while being treated as an annoyance by landlords and letting agents who place invisible barriers in front of you and make the process seem impossible.”Dave
People with low incomes, who have a disability, have children, or are on benefits can face discrimination from landlords and letting agents who put up endless hoops to jump through, and tests to pass.
We’re fed up, so we’ve written to the Secretary of State
Michelle, Dave, Olly and Nick know what the insecurity of private renting feels like, they have experienced poor conditions and discrimination, and struggled against the unaffordability of the sector. Their stories expose a truly broken system, but a comprehensive Renters’ Reform Bill has the potential to change their lives for the better. They want their voices heard, and they want Michael Gove to promise them that he won’t waste this golden opportunity to fix renting.
Add your name and join our call
Together, we can change the law. We can make sure every private renter has long-term security in their home, power to assert their rights, and a fair chance of renting a property if they have kids or receive benefits.
The more people who sign this letter, the more pressure we can put on the government to show them that renters can’t wait any longer for the rights they deserve. The government must commit to introducing the Renters’ Reform Bill to parliament before the summer recess.
Read the Renting Champions’ letter and add your name to help us keep the Renters’ Reform Bill at the top of Michael Gove’s to-do list.