GMLC’s Housing Campaign Volunteer Lead Rosie Coan summarises her day in London at the Renters Reform Coalition Day of Action.
On Tuesday 21 March I joined the Renters’ Reform Coalition on their Renters’ Day of Action in Westminster. The aim of the day was to put pressure on the government to deliver on long-promised private rented sector reforms, and highlight what members want to see in the Renters Reform Bill to their MPs and the Minister for Housing and Planning, Rachel Maclean.
I was able to meet people from across the 20 housing organisations that form the coalition and find out more about which elements of the ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ White Paper they believed to be most promising – likewise, the areas in which further reform is still desperately needed.
The day began with groups meeting their MPs in Parliament, in order to highlight amendments to the Bill they think would be most important. These included the following:
- Make all eviction grounds discretionary rather than mandatory, so a court can take account of a tenant’s circumstances before granting possession.
- Increase notice periods from 2 to 4 months, so people being evicted have time to find a new home.
- Increase the protected period at the start of a tenancy from 6 months to 2 years, to give tenants a real sense of security.
- Prevent landlords who say that family are moving in or that they intend to sell from re-letting the property for 1 year, rather than only 3 months, to prevent abuse of new eviction grounds.
- Cap rent increases at inflation or wage growth, whichever is lowest, to prevent landlords from using unaffordable rent increases as a mechanism to evict a tenant.
- Ensure tenants can reclaim their rent if their landlord isn’t registered on the proposed Property Portal.
Throughout the day, workshops were also held including housing advice drop-in sessions offered by lawyers and housing practitioners, presentations from ACORN members who have campaigned against individual landlords, and a joint campaign session led by GMTU and London Renters’ Union.
The highlight of the day was a Q&A session with MP Rachel Maclean, the recently appointed Minister of State for Housing and Planning. The aim of the session was to give a voice to private renters, highlighting the need for more ambitious reform than current proposals would result in.
Maclean confirmed the department’s intention to introduce the Renters Reform Bill by the end of this parliamentary session. Further, Maclean eventually acknowledged that fairer housing law will not lead to landlords removing properties from the private rented sector, discrediting many arguments against more ambitious reform.
Overall it was great to meet so many people from across the country in attendance, and hear the stories driving them to push for reform. With hundreds in attendance, and far more questions than the minister had allowed time for, it was an opportunity to demonstrate the unity and strength of the movement for fairer housing laws.
Photo: members of GM Tenants Union, GM Law Centre, Law Centres Network and the Legal Action Group stand with the GMLC banner, alongside Vicky Spratt, author of Tenants: The People on the Frontline of Britain’s Housing Emergency. Image credit: GMTU, Twitter, 2023.