A new deal for renting: #EndSection21 Consultation is LIVE!
From now until 12 October, The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is consulting on abolishing so called ‘no-fault’ evictions. As usual, the devil is in the detail; “improving Section 8 grounds”, the other route to eviction. Government is suggesting
- Introducing a new ground when the landlord wants to sell the property and
- widening the current ground for use when landlords, their spouse or partner, or their families want to move into the property.
- Amending the current mandatory ground 8 rent arrears so that landlords must show two months’ arrears on notice, but just one month’s arrears at the time of the hearing (and if there are three instances of the tenant paying down and then re-accruing arrears, this ground becomes mandatory).
- Strengthening antisocial behaviour grounds – although no specific proposals yet
- Amending the domestic violence ground, making this ground available to private landlords, as to council and housing association landlords, also strengthening the rights and protections of the injured party
- Strengthening ground 13, allowing landlords to use this if tenants routinely refuse access to the property for repairs / safety checks.
Almost one-third of MPs are landlords, and the powerful Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) has had the ear of government since plans for a more just system were announced. David Smith, RLA policy director, says
“We have engaged extensively with the Government over these proposals and we are pleased to see that many of our points have been taken on board. This includes on improving the court system and alternative process for regaining possession of a property, known as section 8, to account for how landlords can be certain they can regain their property when faced with rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.”
And Smith goes on to say,
“Section 21 notices are not used for no reason; our research found that of those who had used the process, 84 per cent had used it because of tenant rent arrears, 56 per cent because of damage to a property and 51 per cent because of anti-social behaviour. This is backed up by this week’s English Housing Survey which found that only 12 per cent of private tenancies were ended by the landlord. It is mostly used as the Section 8 process and court system are not fit for purpose.”
So, you see what we’re up against. As we know, London is an outlier in all these national statistics. Research findings reported by JRF in Poverty, Evictions and Forced Moves last year revealed that use of section 21 is highly concentrated geographically. Four out of every five repossessions using section 21 are in London, the East and the South East. And nearly two-thirds are in London alone, although London only has one-fifth of the private rented housing stock. How, then, would expanded section 8 grounds impact on London renters?
We hope that you’ll contribute a response to this consultation, as an individual renter, or as a member of any group which supports renters’ rights. Please encourage and remind other London renters to have a say, as well.
If you can’t contribute your own response, please let Renters’ Rights London know what you wish to see happen next? Our response will be based on wisdom gleaned from our daily conversations, and correspondence, with London renters. And our response will be enhanced by your contribution, so do please let us have with your thoughts.
In fact, London renters’ needs may well be best served by a London regional tenancy, based on the Mayor’s Blueprint (below). The Assemblies of Scotland (population 5.425 million), Wales (population 3.125 million), and N. Ireland (population 1.87 million) have legislative powers. But law-making power has not been devolved to the London (population 8.136 million) regional authority. Ours remains one of the most centralized countries in the developed World.
But now that central government has expressed a firm commitment to a new deal for renting, we hope that the Mayor of London’s Blueprint will provide inspiration and guidance to Parliamentarians when the time comes to amend (if necessary) and vote on new legislation.
Reforming Private Renting: The Mayor of London’s Blueprint
Before you respond to MHCLG, it’s well worth reading Reforming Private Renting: The Mayor of London’s Blueprint. Launched on Friday 19th July, the London Blueprint comes after intensive round table discussions, held across several months.
Renters’ Rights London was invited to contribute to both strands; improving security, and affordability, as was Hannah, then-Policy & Public Affairs Manager at Generation Rent. Representatives from London Renters’ Union joined us at some of those meetings, too. Expert housing economists, representatives from landlords’ organizations, and from charities concerned with homelessness, all worked to make the Mayor of London’s blueprint the best possible reform of this dysfunctional system.
At the launch event, it was an honour to have been able to thank the Mayor of London, Deputy Mayor James Murray, and Karen Buck MP, for having listened to London renters’ representatives, and reflected our needs in the Mayor of London’s Blueprint.
Widening Access to the National Rogue Landlord Database
We can all see the Mayor of London’s Landlord and Agent Checker what if a landlord has been subject to a banning order in another part of the country? At the moment, only local government officers and other authorities can access the government’s national database of those landlords found guilty of law-breaking.
Should we, the renting public, be able to see for ourselves whether a prospective landlord has been found ‘guilty’ of a housing-related offence? It looks like a rhetorical question. But MHCLG is asking, anyway.
This consultation is open until 12 October, and Renters’ Rights London will mention again before then. But if you’re at a loose end on one of these lovely, long evenings, why not consider submitting your response early? That one is a rhetorical question.
While we’re campaigning for a National Landlord Registration Scheme, it’s good to see that more and more London councils understand the benefits of property licensing. Like Lewisham and Brent, Havering Council is concerned about homes where standards are below the legally-required minimum, and about the antisocial behaviour associated with overcrowding. So Havering Council is consulting on the merits of introducing a licensing scheme. The consultation is open until 20 September. See full details of the proposal and respond
Campaign for a National Landlord Register
CIEH is calling for a National Landlord’s register because housing is a key determinant of health. Substandard accommodation is responsible for a high proportion of the deaths, injuries and chronic illnesses that reduce life expectancy in the UK.
As the latest English Housing Survey confirms, there is a a higher proportion of substandard housing in the private rented sector than in any other tenures. But local authorities have very limited knowledge of landlords and the rented properties in their local areas. There is no legal requirement for landlords to declare their interests, and rogue landlords exploit this to the detriment of their tenants.
When CIEH asked Renters’ Rights London to lend our support to this really important campaign, of course we were eager to do so. We agree that a register would give local authorities valuable data to inform their decisions on housing provision and knowing where most of the privately rented homes are, would free council enforcement officers to focus attention on the bad, non-compliant landlords.
The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) and Housing
Click on the links, below, and you’ll see why early predictions from experts don’t bode well for our aims and objectives as housing campaigners. But while it’s important to know what they’re saying, at Renters’ Rights London, we listen most closely to people actually living in the PRS. We’re here to ensure that renters’ voices are heard by the people with the power to help, and to bring about change. So, if you’re connected with any group or society ready to discuss the private rented sector, get in touch? We’ll be pleased to meet you.
What sort of prime minister will Boris Johnson be for the housing sector?
Peter Apps, insidehousing.co.uk
Architects react as Boris Johnson becomes prime minister
Elizabeth Hopkirk, bdonline.co.uk
RLA warns new PM against ‘over-regulation’ of PRS
Bill Tanner 24housing.co.uk