A third of private tenants (35%) are worried that they will lose their home in the next year, according to a new Survation poll commissioned by Generation Rent.
This study found that this lack of stability makes it harder for tenants to lead a normal life; they are less likely to like the way their home looks or know lots of people in their local area.
However, recent Government proposals to reform tenancies will fail to assuage this anxiety, the tenant lobby group insists, as it calls for bolder reforms in the forthcoming Autumn Budget.
The Survation research revealed that one in three private tenants are worried that they will have to move home in the next year, compared with 16% of homeowners. Renters are also less likely to feel like their home looks the way they want it to (43%) than homeowners (66%) or council tenants (50%).
In addition, private tenants are less likely to know lots of people in their local area (42%) than homeowners and council tenants (both 53%), while they are more likely to be stressed or anxious (53%) than other tenures, including homeowners (35%).
Just a quarter of renters feel that the economy works well for them, with a third who do not (34%). The population as a whole is evenly split, with 30% agreeing with the statement and 29% who disagree. Homeowners are much more likely to agree that the economy is treating them well (37%), though a quarter (24%) disagree.
In England, 19% of households now live in private rental housing, rising to 25% among families with children. Outside of a fixed term tenancy, a private landlord can evict their tenant with two months’ notice and without needing a reason.
The Government has acknowledged the problems this lack of security creates. At the Conservative Party conference, the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, said that new incentives would be announced in the Autumn Budget for landlords who give tenants more security.
However, the only extra security outlined by Javid was tenancies of at least 12 months, which the majority of landlords already offer, and an additional month’s notice if the landlord wants to take back the property.
Generation Rent is calling on the Government to provide meaningful security for tenants who meet the terms of their tenancy:
- Landlords should give a valid reason for taking back a property – this would help to prevent revenge evictions, which are used to intimidate tenants and is already being introduced in Scotland.
- Landlords should pay the tenant’s moving costs if they are forced to move without being at fault – this would encourage landlords who wanted to sell up to sell to another landlord with the tenants still living in the property.
- Landlords should not raise rents by more than wages are rising – this would help tenants to plan their finances and stop landlords from forcing tenants out by increasing the rent.
The Director of Generation Rent, Dan Wilson Craw, says: “With homeownership unaffordable and council housing unavailable, private renters are living longer in a tenure that was not designed to provide long-term homes. The constant threat of your landlord deciding to sell up or move back in means that you have none of the stability that a home is supposed to provide. As the poll suggests, this is holding back tenants from improving their homes or getting involved in their local community.
“We can bring private renters’ quality of life into line with other tenures by restricting the ability of landlords to evict tenants who have done nothing wrong. Tenants should be compensated for the cost of an unwanted move and we should encourage any landlords who want to exit the market to sell with sitting tenants.”