Last week in Parliament, I backed a better deal for renters – for greater housing security and an end to ‘no-fault’ evictions. I feel strongly about this, as I see the reality many families who rent are facing in my regular MP surgeries. For example, in one case, a tenant complained to their landlord that their heating was not working. In response, they were served with a Section 21 eviction notice. That cannot be right. Housing insecurity puts a huge strain on people’s mental and physical health. It damages children’s education and opportunities. Improving the protections for renters who do the right thing, looking after the property and paying their rent on time, is long overdue.
That is why I spoke up when the landmark Renters Reform Bill had its second reading. This Bill will provide housing security and stability for millions of renters. It will abolish section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions and protect tenants from backdoor eviction by excessive rent rises. A new Private Rented Sector Ombudsman will be introduced for quicker redress for repairs and complaints. With increasing numbers of people renting, it is vital these reforms are passed so that renters will have a better deal and greater stability.
Alongside the Renters Reform Bill, there is a strong programme of housebuilding underway to deliver the homes we need. This includes work to build 1 million homes by the end of this Parliament and a target of 300,000 new homes every year by 2025. Recently, I held a roundtable in Parliament with the Minister for Housing along with industry experts to discuss speeding up the delivery of affordable new homes.
Over the last two decades, there has been a structural shift in housing. I published a detailed report on this issue in 2014 called “Nation Rent”. Nation Rent highlighted that renting wasn’t simply a ‘generation rent’ event for young people. The housing and financial markets began a structural change as far back as 2003, when a rapid acceleration of the private rented sector was accompanied by a fall in home ownership. This structural shift has seen more than 6 million people stuck long term in private rented housing, instead of being in either council housing or owning their own home.
This fundamental structural change means the private rented sector is no longer a transitionary or temporary tenure. For millions of people it is where they will live for much, if not all, of their lives. That’s why it is so important that renters get a better deal and greater security.
Good homes are a fundamental building block for life. Homeownership enables people to have greater opportunities and to build up a stock of wealth. That’s why we need to build more affordable housing – and help more people own a home of their own.