The Renter Charter

18 Nov 2019

Iain Donaldson was asked:

I'm writing to you as a voter in Blackley and Broughton to urge you to commit to reforming the private rented sector if elected, and to support the Renter Manifesto.

As I'm sure you're aware, the private rented sector is in urgent need of reform, both in Blackley and Broughton and nationally.

  • One in five people in the UK rent privately, yet renters are often overlooked by policymakers in favour of homeowners or first-time buyers.
  • Renting is unaffordable, with renters paying around 40 of their income on rents.
  • In return for high rents, private renters suffer poor conditions and have very little security.
  • One in seven privately rented homes are unsafe, and tenants can be evicted by their landlords with just two months notice, even if they have done nothing wrong.

I'm a supporter of Generation Rent, one of the campaign groups which developed the Renter Manifesto. The manifesto sets out policies that the next Government must implement to improve the lives of renters. The reforms are categorised in six key themes - Security, Affordability, Justice, Conditions, Discrimination, and Housing for People Not Profit. We want the next Government to commit to ending unfair Section 21 Evictions, invest in a massive housebuilding programme, and outlaw discrimination against tenants on housing benefit.

I hope that, if elected, you will take steps to ensure that private renters have access to safe, secure and affordable homes.

Please do let me know if you will support the manifesto.

Iain Donaldson responded:

Thank you very much for your email in which you rightly highlight the plight of the thousands of people living in private rented accommodation both locally in Blackley and Broughton and across the country.

The three things we need around us for a stable life are good health, good friends and family and a good roof over our head and that is why it is so important that the next government tackles and starts to resolve Britain's housing crisis.

For those who are renting in the private sector it is important that they can secure tenure, and to this ends a Liberal Democrat Government would reform Section 21, ending the ability for landlords to evict tenants via "no fault evictions." We would also promote longer tenancies of three years or more with an inflation-linked annual rent increase built in, to give tenants security and limit rent hikes, ensuring that rent cannot be hiked excessively will mean landlords cannot increase rent as a method of evicting a tenant.

Whilst there are many good landlords in the private sector, it is important that the bad landlords are tackled and so we would improve protections against rogue landlords through mandatory licensing.

Affordability of housing is a major issue, and there are many ways in which we can improve this, not least of which is by building 100,000 homes specifically for social rent each year and giving local authorities the first right to purchase public land for social housing. We would also reform legislation such as the Land Compensation Act to ensure they pay a fair price for land.

In order to finance the large increase building social homes and encourage local authorities to use their new powers to borrow we will introduce a British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank.

Young people are facing difficulties with around 37% of people aged 25-34 now privately rent their homes, which is up from 12% in the mid-1990s. We would help young people into the rental market by establishing a new Help to Rent scheme to provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30 and we would also help people who cannot afford a deposit by introducing a new Rent to Own model for social housing where rent payments give tenants an increasing stake in the property, owning it outright after 30 years.

The highest levels of fuel poverty are in the private rented sector and so we would ensure all new houses are built to zero-carbon standards by 2021, drastically cutting energy bills and undertake a ten-year emergency programme to upgrade existing housing stock, targeting fuel poor homes first.

There is a great deal more that needs to be done to tackle the housing crisis, and I have stuck to just some of the things we are committed to specifically to help those living in the private rented and broader rented sector, we are facing today and one of the things that a Liberal Democrat government will always do it talk to the experts and the service users about how we can bring forward new ideas to help tackle the crisis but for private renters particularly this would be a starting point.

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