Rented Properties Central Housing Group

Rental sector skewed against tenants says prominent London Tory

A prominent London Conservative MP has made a scathing attack on the current rental sector’s structure, saying it is skewed in favour of landlords.

Nickie Aiken – the former Conservative leader of Westminster council and now the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster – says there are two priorities which the government must tackle: “removing the arbitrariness of evictions and creating a system less skewed in favour of landlords.”

Aiken – in her contribution to a roundtable discussion led by the think-tank UK Onward and the campaigning charity Shelter – says: “It is clear that tenants need greater protection and security.”
She believes that the Renters’ Reform Bill, which is expected to come to Parliament shortly, is the vehicle for achieving her goals.

“The abolition of Section 21 is the start. We need to do more to support our renters and also potential owners to give people a stake in the property market and assure them with long-term security. As we emerge from lockdown, this will become even more important than ever.”

Aiken says members of her family have moved into private rental accommodation and “the precarious nature of the sector is striking.”

She continues: “Even the best tenants have little protection from being ousted from the place that they call home. It is unsettling that eviction can happen to virtually anyone through the powers of Section 21 notices.”

In a report based on the round-table discussion, the think-tank demands three improvements to the private rental sector:

– Security. “For tenants, this means having protection from no-fault evictions. For landlords, this means certainty and stability in repossession claims. These changes should come through abolishing Section 21 and reforms to Section 8 notices”;

– Clarity. “This involves modernising how the sector is regulated and the court processes associated with civil private rented disputes. This could involve challenging evictions in different ways, such as mediation settlements, rather than contested settlements. Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill is crucial for ensuring these options are debated properly”;

– Strengthen. “At the moment, the housing market remains insecure for a sizable number of families. Previously, social housing would have delivered greater security to these tenants, but this is often no longer available. More affordable and better-quality housing should be encouraged as part of the levelling up agenda, particularly in left-behind areas. This is the most sustainable way of rebalancing the housing market and local economy. There must also be a clear springboard for homeownership too.”

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