The new Parliament must end the renting crisis

Dec 13, 2019 2:08 PM

Last night, Boris Johnson won a landslide victory. He must take this opportunity to end the renting crisis.

Last night, voters delivered Boris Johnson's Conservatives a majority of 80, the party's largest since the 1980's. Labour saw their support in leave-voting areas of Wales and northern England crumble. It's fair to say that this was not an election fought on renting, or on housing more broadly; Brexit was front, centre, and everywhere in between.

Private renters may be wondering what to expect from the next Parliament. The Conservatives have made it clear that their priority is to increase levels of home ownership rather than focus on the social and private rented sector, but did commit to two important reforms in their manifesto: ending Section 21 'no fault' evictions and reforming deposits. These concessions are testament to the strength of the renter movement, and we'll be working closely with the new government to ensure these pledges are delivered.

Abolishing Section 21 has cross party support and is key to giving renters security in their homes and ending homelessness. However, the devil is in the detail. The government's reforms must be strong enough to protect tenants and prevent unscrupulous landlords from exploiting loopholes or using rent rises to  force their tenants out under the new system. The Ministry of Housing are currently consulting on what will replace Section 21, and we will be scrutinising the proposals to ensure that tenants rights are protected and strengthened under the new laws. The Conservative manifesto promised a 'lifetime deposit', allowing renters to move their deposits between homes, rather than paying new ones each time. This will make renting fairer, but more must be done to address underlying affordability issues.

Beyond this, the Conservatives have made it loud and clear that their priority will be, as it always has been, to increase home ownership. This will not come as good news for the two thirds of private renters who have no savings whatsoever, little chance of ever saving for a deposit or for securing a council rented home. To achieve their goal of increasing home ownership, the government must not ignore the private rented sector (PRS). High rents prevent renters from saving for a home and trap an increasing number of families and older people in unsuitable housing. We urge the government to tackle the affordability crisis to ensure that renters can achieve financial stability, alongside introducing measures to ensure all privately rented accommodation is of a decent and safe standard. 

With an increasing number of people renting, and the average age of first time buyers shooting up, ignoring the PRS could prove risky. The Conservatives need young people to believe that they can deliver affordable housing, and previous pledges to increase home ownership have conclusively failed. Tackling homelessness, which the Conservatives have pledged to do, cannot be achieved without tackling the problems in the PRS which cause homelessness. Our welfare system must support private renters on lower incomes to ensure housing is affordable, and must protect tenants from homelessness following an eviction.

The renter movement is growing, and we'll keep fighting to make sure the next Parliament ends the renting crisis. Generation Rent is a movement of renters and we couldn't do what we did without support. Join us in the fight for safe, secure and affordable privately rented homes. Sign up at: