Recent data from the BBC has confirmed what many renters already know: that the private rental sector has become dominated by extreme competition, unaffordable rents and insecure tenancies. This is reflected in the large volume of correspondence I receive from constituents who are suffering due to our country’s urgent housing crisis.
This crisis means that competition for properties is fierce. Renters are often expected to treat the rent advertised by the landlord as a starting bid – to be in with any chance at all, they often have to offer significantly more. Bidding wars, in which prospective tenants are forced to one-up each other with their rent offers, are common.
Rents have risen rapidly as a result. The affordability of renting is now at its worst point in a decade, with people spending a higher percentage of their wages on rent than at any other time in this period. Within the last 12 months alone, rent in the North West has increased by 10.5%. In Stockport, this figure is 11.5%.
Renting is also increasingly insecure. Government figures reveal a surge in Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. In Stockport, the number of no fault evictions rose by 150% in 2022. Labour has pressed the government to outlaw this deeply unethical practice, yet time and time again, it has failed to do so, enabling landlords to evict families from their homes for no reason. I regularly hear from constituents facing homelessness as a result.
This environment means that renters are often paying more, for less. There is little financial incentive or regulatory obligation compelling landlords to properly maintain properties. Nearly a third of private rental properties in England fail to meet government standards. Around 600,000 privately rented homes pose a serious and immediate risk to health and safety, due to issues such as mould.
This crisis is a political choice. Successive Conservative governments have failed to build anywhere near enough housing, creating a chronic shortage. England’s new housing supply is predicted to fall to its lowest level in decades, with construction dropping to its lowest level since World War II.
Renters and mortgage holders have also been hit by the Conservative mortgage penalty. The government’s failure to address inflation, and the catastrophic consequences of the mini-budget – – which triggered market chaos by giving an unfunded tax cut to some of the richest in our society – have hiked up mortgage costs. Landlords often pass this additional burden onto tenants, pushing rents up further.
A Labour government will tackle this crisis by building the affordable housing that our country desperately needs, and improving regulation of the private rental sector. It is difficult to overstate the importance of housing to both individuals and society at large, with access to safe and secure housing having major implications for people’s health, wellbeing and educational and employment prospects. Housing is a basic right – one that has been eroded by 13 years of Conservative failure.
If you live or work in Stockport constituency, please do not hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or 0161 480 0833.