‘Meaningless’ and ‘purely cosmetic’. Campaigners aren’t buying the government’s latest housing reform.

Homes to rent signs on a building

On 1 July, the government announced a new housing proposal to reform England’s hostile private-rented sector.

Yet campaigners are dismissing it as “meaningless” and “purely cosmetic”.

Putting down roots

The government is proposing to introduce a minimum three-year tenancy. This would be a significant change as, currently, 81% of private renters are signed up to six-to-12-month tenancies.

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Communities secretary James Brokenshire told the BBC:

It is deeply unfair when renters are forced to uproot their lives or find new schools for their children at short notice due to the terms of their rental contract.

Being able to call your rental property your home is vital to putting down roots and building stronger communities.


But private-renting campaigners and groups aren’t impressed by the government’s proposal. The London Renters Union, for example, called the proposal “purely cosmetic”:

Another campaigner, meanwhile, decried the fact that proposals don’t end “no-fault evictions”:

And campaign group Generation Rent is fearful that landlords will abuse the ‘six-month break clause’:

Not secure enough

Generation Rent told The Canary that:

Three-year tenancies are a step forward, but would still mean that many tenants – including those with children in school – would have to move every few years.

Regardless of a tenant’s long-term plans, they should not fear being evicted as long as they meet their obligations to the landlord. The government could give England’s 11 million tenants greater security by abolishing Section 21, the law that allows landlords to evict without giving a reason.

Whatever the government’s plans, landlords could still force tenants out by jacking up the rent, so any reform must include restrictions on rent increases.

And shadow housing secretary John Healey reiterated this view:

Any fresh help for renters is welcome but this latest promise is meaningless if landlords can still force tenants out by hiking up the rent.

Elephant in the room

Evictions from private-rented tenancies account for 78% of the rise in homelessness since 2011.

The government’s proposal for longer tenancies is a step in the right direction. But it’s clear that campaigners will not rest until it abolishes no-fault evictions.

Get Involved!

– Sign up with Generation Rent to learn more about their campaigns and local renters’ groups.

Featured image via Paul Mison/Flickr

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