Housing estate. Photo: Miles Glendenning/CC
Housing estate. Photo: Miles Glendenning/CC

West London private tenant

At least 271,000 unhoused people currently live in the UK. The number of people on waiting lists for council housing is in the thousands for every London borough that supplies this data, with some families waiting up to 28 years for a house. Given that private rent prices average approximately £2,500 per month in London, and are still increasing, this is not a problem just for young people and students; this is a countrywide crisis that affects every property-renting person.

The Renters (Reform) Bill, introduced by levelling-up secretary Michael Gove, is woefully inadequate to tackle the actual issues faced by people in the housing market. Gove himself admitted that the bill “will support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes to their tenants.” So, who is this bill really for: renters, or exploitative big landlords?

The new bill will allow landlords to evict tenants in rent arrears – a policy rigged against the vast majority of renters who are faced with ever-increasing rent prices and incomes that barely stretch to cover them. It also targets people who cause damage to the property, even unintentionally – and what constitutes ‘damage’ is a subjective decision usually made by the landlord.

Currently, the lack of outside influence on whether a landlord returns tenants’ security deposits also leaves renters worrying if they will be paid back the thousands of pounds they paid at the beginning of their tenancy. In the last few days, the government also axed the no-fault eviction ban – the only useful part of the bill – allowing landlords to continue evicting their tenants at short notice should they want to repossess the property for themselves.

The Socialist Party demands policies that target the real issues faced by renters: rent control that caps rent, the mass building of affordable council housing, an end to affordability barriers such as unfairly high security deposits; and secure tenancies.

Fair rent price decisions should be made by and for tenants, backed by housing associations and trade union representatives, with tenants’ best interests at heart.