This National Renters Manifesto sets out the steps needed to ensure that everybody has a secure, affordable and decent home. Organisations from across England and Wales have come together to write this ‘Renters Manifesto, a call for political parties to fix the housing crisis and our broken private renting system.
The manifesto includes the changes needed to make this happen, and is based on 5 key areas: Security, Standards, Affordability, Fairer Private Renting, and Homes for People Not For Profit.
This is the headline document outlining the broad shape of what changes are needed to improve life for those in rented homes. For the more detailed Policy Document, which outlines more technical positions and solutions, please click here.
Ending unfair evictions
Renters are waiting for an end to Section 21 no fault evictions which landlords can use to unfairly kick them out, denying them security in their homes. When this ban happens, any loopholes which landlords could abuse (such as hiking rent to
force a tenant out, or pretending they want to move in themselves) must be closed. Landlords should only be able to end tenancies in limited circumstances - requiring a high bar of evidence for their reasoning (such as wanting to move family members in), with repercussions for abuse of this process. There should be relocation payments for tenants. When a landlord sells a home, it should be sold with a sitting tenant if they wish to stay.
Tenants should always have a right to defend themselves against an eviction, with access to legal aid for their defence. Lodgers and licensees should have stronger legal protections against ‘no fault’ evictions.
Stamp out illegal evictions
Local councils must have a legal duty, and proper resources available, to investigate and prosecute landlords who illegally evict tenants. Police forces must be properly trained on their responsibility to prevent illegal evictions, and should treat them as the criminal offences that they are, and not a civil matter.
All tenancies should be open-ended for all tenants, so they can leave when they need to and can expect to stay as long as they like. In the exceptional circumstances where tenants are to be evicted through no fault of their own, a fair notice period of at least four months must be given so they have enough time to find a suitable new home.
Safe, healthy and decent homes
The legal standards around safety and quality should be the same in all tenures, including in temporary accommodation (as well as privately rented and social housing).
There should be a free ‘one-stop shop’ for tenants to raise any issues they are having with their landlord, so it is easier to exercise their rights.
It should be less profitable for landlords to break the rules than to follow them. Local councils should have the legal duty, and be properly resourced, to massively increase inspections and enforcement action against landlords who fail to make their homes decent and safe. This should include fines, prosecutions and banning orders.
Landlords should have a legal obligation to make adaptations to homes for tenants with disabilities, supported by an easily obtainable Disabilities Facility Grant.
Safe and decent Temporary Accommodation
Tenants in temporary accommodation should expect the same standards as those living in other tenures. This includes temporary homes that are of a good standard, and are accessible for tenants with disabilities. Landlords and management companies providing temporary accommodation must be made properly accountable when it comes to the standards and the treatment of their tenants.
Tenants in temporary accommodation should be afforded the same dignity and security as other tenants - for example they should be allowed guests and not be subject to arbitrary curfews.
There should be mandatory national registration of all private landlords, agents, and rented properties. This should include information on ownership, details of gas safety, electrical safety and other required documentation, and any relevant convictions or history of enforcement orders concerning the landlord or the home. It should also include information on the amount of rent paid.
This register must be free and publicly accessible, so future tenants can use this to inform their choices, and it should be funded by a registration fee paid for by the landlords and agents. Tenants should be able to get rent back if their landlord has not registered. The registration body should carry out random, non-intrusive inspections on registered
properties to make sure they meet decent standards.
An affordable home is increasingly out of reach for many, with high rents pushing more and
more people into financial hardship. Excessive rent rises are driven by profiteering by letting agents and landlords. The market isn’t ‘regulating itself; it is the Government’s responsibility to make sure everyone can access an affordable home. No one should have to spend more than 30% of their income on rent. We need rent controls that bring rents down and maintain them at this level. Local incomes should be factored in when these controls are set, and they should be accountable to renters.
The government should implement a passporting system, allowing tenants to automatically transfer the value of their deposit to their next tenancy. At a minimum, a deposit protection scheme should release the uncontested amounts of a
deposit to tenants as soon as the tenancy ends. They should not unfairly place the burden of disproving disputed damage onto tenants. Renters’ money builds up significant interest while sitting in deposit schemes, the added value of this money should be spent to benefit tenants.
Green homes fit for the future, and an end to fuel poverty
All rented homes should be brought up to an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C or above. Local authorities must have a duty, and be properly resourced, to enforce energy efficiency standards. Tenants must be able to claim rent back on homes that are not energy efficient. A regulator should carry out robust inspections to determine this, and to give tenants a clear path to reclaim this rent. In the exceptional cases where landlords can evict tenants, any evictions should not be possible until properties are up to scratch.
Grants should be available to landlords to help them meet these targets, but this must come with protections for the tenants, who must see the benefit of these improvements. For example, if a tenant pays rent with bills included, their rent should go down where energy saving measures have been introduced. Protections should include a freeze on evictions once the works have been completed, and a cap (linked to the grant amount) on rent increases, for a certain period.
A welfare system that supports safe, secure, affordable homes
Local Housing Allowance must be unfrozen and made immediately available to any tenant when they need to claim this.
It should be raised so it matches rents, and a system must be introduced to make sure it remains in line with rent costs.
There should be no ‘rent free weeks’ and gaps caused by Universal Credit, which lead to rent arrears. Protections must be put in place to make sure that tenants who receive benefits (often women, families, or people with long-term conditions or disabilities), are not discriminated against by landlords and letting agents.
There must be a cap on the amount of rent that can be asked up front, to stop discrimination against benefit claimants and other lower income households. Bidding wars must also be banned - the advertised price of a rental home should be the final price tenants are expected to pay.
Private Renters to Have Control Over Their Homes
Accessing Disabled Facilities Grants should be made simpler to ensure tenants can stay in their homes and get adaptations quickly, especially with the increasing number of elderly and disabled private tenants. Tenants should have the right to decorate their homes and have pets. Cosmetic alterations and redecorating should not count towards deposit deductions.
Councils should be able to force landlords to make reasonable adaptations as a part of enforcement action.
End Discrimination in Renting
End ‘Right to Rent’ and nationality requirements for social housing. There should be no immigration checks in licensing or enforcement regimes. End policies which allow discrimination based on migrant status, disability, age, lone and parental status, receipt of benefits, or low income (such as 'No DSS'). Adopt policies to address inequality, and to support and protect disadvantaged and marginalised groups. More specific provisions for LGBTQ+ people, those with mental health and learning disabilities, people with physical disabilities, survivors of domestic violence, migrant communities, asylum seekers and marginalised racial or ethnic groups (including People of Colour, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people).
Councils should have a statutory duty and resources to prosecute landlords and letting agents who discriminate.
Renters Right to Organise
Renters have a right to join a union and must not face retaliatory action from landlords for doing so. Unions should be consulted proactively by the government, and given a seat at the table when making decisions that will affect renters.
Improve access to justice for private renters.
Legal aid for housing cases should be restored and extended to cover legal costs challenging disrepair in court. Local support and advice on housing issues must be readily available for renters.
Public Investment in Public Housebuilding
We need government investment in a huge public house building programme that should aim to deliver 3.1 million council homes over 20 years. Public funding for housing must be directed solely towards building council homes. All public housing must be accountable, with tenants democratically represented in the governance of council and housing association homes.
Accessible homes should be an absolute priority when building new homes, to tackle the severe shortage of these and to move towards the aim of universal accessibility in all new homes.
End ‘Right to Buy’, with democratic public ownership of housing prioritised.
Building homes must be coupled with providing the community services and infrastructure which our communities need to thrive, such as doctors, schools, parks and other vital services.
Private Rented Homes Brought into Public or Tenant Ownership
There should be a clear commitment to giving local authorities and community-led housing schemes first refusal on private rented properties entering the market, to buy them back into public ownership.
Homes Not Assets
A decent home is the foundation of a healthy life. We must end the politics and culture which treats homes as an investment opportunity rather than something essential to housing people, and bring homes into democratic public ownership.
Mortgage rates and terms currently encourage property speculation and must be changed. Terms should not be more favourable on buy-to-let mortgages than on mortgages taken out by owner occupiers. The tax system should not encourage investment in property to rent and should discourage leaving homes empty, and practices such as land banking by developers.
Holiday lets and short term lets must be licensed and limited to ensure they aren’t forcing
local people to move out of their communities.
Instead permanent homes for people to live in communities and to stay in communities should be prioritised.
You can sign up to manifesto here: https://rentermanifesto-npto.nationbuilder.com/join