The pandemic has exposed an over-reliance on private landlords’ goodwill to meet the country’s housing needs, says Generation Rent’s new director Baroness Alicia Kennedy, who also says her organisation will be working harder to persuade more local authorities to introduce tenants’ charters.
“We are working with local councils to adopt a tenants’ charter to improve awareness of rights and underpin effective enforcement,” she says.
Several councils have already adopted these including Tower Hamlets in London, but their use is far from widespread.
Kennedy says tenants in overcrowded homes are at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus, while more than half of landlords are failing to offer their struggling tenants flexibility on rent.
“As we move from crisis management to recovery, the Government should act to rebalance our housing system, tackle the causes of unaffordability and ensure private renters are properly protected for the long term,” she says.
Generation Rent is calling for a suspension of evictions for rent arrears built up due to coronavirus, as well as measures to prevent those arrears in the first place, such as lifting the benefit cap, expanding eligibility for housing allowance, and an increase in the level to cover average local rents.
“To make the sector work for growing numbers who are stuck in it, the Government needs to act quickly on its pledge to end no-fault evictions and introduce the Renters’ Reform Bill to parliament in the autumn,” she says.
“It’s the opportunity we need to give private tenants security in their homes, stability in their lives and greater power in their relationship with their landlords.”
Kennedy adds that while most landlords treat their tenants well, many are slow to carry out repairs or, even worse, let tenants live in unsafe accommodation.