The Nationwide Foundation - a charitable foundation founded by the Nationwide Building Society - says the Renters Reform Bill should be made even tougher to help tenants.
A statement from the foundation says: “It’s widely accepted that the affordability of private renting is a major concern, but the Bill does nothing to address this. It does limit rent rises to annually, but leaves the door open for landlords to use big rent rises as a way of evicting tenants.
“The government should prevent landlords from carrying out backdoor revenge eviction via unreasonable rent hikes. This should be done by limiting rent increases within tenancies to the lowest of either inflation or real median income growth averaged over the last three years.”
The foundation also claims that the Bill fails to deliver enhanced safety for private tenants. The statement claims: “We’d also like to see time limits for investigating and fixing damp and mould as part of the Renters Reform Bill, matching the new regulations brought in for social housing following the tragic death of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale.”
The government is also accused of not doing enough on enforcement, despite its measures including a pledge to enhance council funding to boost policing of the private rental sector.
The Nationwide Foundation claims: “Whilst it’s a step in the right direction, the Bill in its current form misses out on the opportunity to ensure that all renters truly have the security they need in their homes. Again and again, the Nationwide Foundation’s funded projects tell us that regulation is meaningless without proper enforcement.
“… While improved powers for local authority enforcement are welcome, councils already struggle to enforce existing regulation. It’s vital that local authorities receive ring-fenced resources to be able to root out and penalise bad landlords. Getting this right is key to allowing renters to actually use the new rights they will be getting from the Bill. And when legislative changes are made, tenants will still need advice and support to know their rights and be confident to use them.”
Perhaps most predictably, the scrapping of Section 21 eviction powers and clarification of Section 8 evictions grounds are not enough for the Nationwide Foundation, which says in its statement: “The Bill leaves open the door for less scrupulous landlords to abuse the new grounds without ever really intending to follow through on a sale or moving in. Evidence … tells us that, where similar changes were made in Scotland, the new grounds for eviction were often abused.
“To protect renters from this, we want the Bill to require more stringent evidence checks for landlords who seek eviction on these grounds. The Bill should also prevent landlords from re-letting the property for one year after using these grounds. On top of this, we want to see a prohibition on the use of the new sale or moving in grounds for the first two years of a tenancy.
“As it stands, landlords will be able to use these grounds six months after a tenant moves in, meaning tenants could start putting down roots in an area only to be evicted. We also want to see eviction notice periods extended from two to four months, to give tenants sufficient time to find a new home.”