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“I urge you to commit to reforming the private rented sector if elected, and to support the Renter Manifesto.”
This was an email that dropped in my inbox from a single-parent renter currently living in cramped accommodation and sleeping on their sofa, because of the high rent prices in Walthamstow.
The email had a number of stats:
- One in five people in the UK rent privately, yet renters are often overlooked by policymakers in favour of homeowners or first-time buyers.
- Renting is unaffordable, with renters paying around 40% of their income on rents.
- In return for high rents, private renters suffer poor conditions and have very little security.
- One in seven privately rented homes are unsafe, and tenants can be evicted by their landlords with just two months notice, even if they have done nothing wrong.
I myself am part of Generation Rent, as a father and private renter in Chingford, so this is an issue I am very familiar with. Despite having lived in Walthamstow for 27 years and Chingford for a further 12, I believe there is a possibility that the next time we are forced to move, the cost of renting will force us away from the community my family have lived in for generations. So I really do understand the problems renters in Walthamstow are facing and fully support the Renter manifesto.
Safe, secure homes are an essential requirement in tackling climate chaos.
For decades, The Green Party has stated that the environmental crisis can only be tackled in conjunction with tackling social and economic problems as well. Safe, secure homes are an essential requirement in tackling climate chaos.
To demonstrate that Green MPs don’t need to be in Government to achieve their goals and make a difference, they’ve announced a list of 10 bills that their MPs would propose as backbench MPs in Parliament. One of these bills is the “New Homes Bill”, which would introduce 100,000 new social homes per year. This would help reduce the demand on the private housing market, which should, in turn, reduce rents.
In addition to this:
- The Green Party’s 2019 election manifesto offers a Green New Deal for housing including improving every home that needs insulation by 2030. As announced the standards we are looking at are well over and above EPC rating ‘A’ for our refurbished homes. A million existing homes will be refurbished to this standard, starting with those of those on low incomes, who are in most serious fuel poverty. All the 8 million rented homes will be renovated as far as possible towards this standard.
- To meet decent safety: After the failed deregulation of fire standards, we hope to update the fire regulations for all types of insulation in buildings.
- To help those in condemned estates or renting as property guardians, we would change the planning system to bear in mind the embedded carbon footprint of new builds. Rather than steel and concrete, the Green New Deal for housing could incentivise natural materials and refurbishment rather than demolition. Families should be secure and not be moved because an investor decided to knock down their home.
- During the transition to Universal Basic Income, existing recipients of Housing Benefit would be secure in their homes and continue to receive it to pay for their rent cost until the point that Universal Basic Income starts. There will be a housing element of the UBI to ensure claimants continue to receive help towards their rent and the means-tested taper will reduce from 65% of excess income to 35% or less enabling people to keep more of their wages when in work.
- The Green New Deal for tax would switch the property tax burden so that it goes on large landowners and not renters, which should result in empty properties coming back into use, further reducing demand on the private rental sector.
- Our policies also state that we would push for secure tenancies, end discrimination and abolish Section 21. More details here.
In the London Assembly, Green Party AM, Sian Berry, has been campaigning relentlessly for the introduction of rent controls to ease the pressure on the city’s renters, repeatedly demanding at Mayoral Question Time that action be taken. The pressure has paid off – in July 2019 London Mayor Sadiq Khan formally asked the government for powers to introduce London rent controls.