Opinion

'I have no idea what happens to people like us': Your response to the Renters Reform Bill

The Renters Reform Bill is long overdue and our special report about it finally being unveiled has prompted our readers to share their experiences and thoughts

Illustration of a house with a lifebelt around it

Illustration: Álvaro-Bernis

The dreaded knock on the door: it’s the landlord. With a white envelope. We kind of knew it was coming. The tenant upstairs, our friend Jose had been served with a Section 21 a couple of months before. He said: “Look at this – can you believe it?” It was the first I’d heard of this no-blame eviction thing. Two months later he was gone. Unceremoniously. Didn’t get his deposit back. Nada. See you later…

I think, looking back he was in shock. He started thinking, damp, black mould, unsafe electrics, etc. If I’m not welcome here… and so on. He had, like us, never got any repairs or maintenance done properly (if at all), just bodged up by our landlord and his mate. It helped that Jose had some savings – my wife and I don’t. He used it as a spur to start again. Pastures new. He’d been a tenant here for about 18 years. A good neighbour too.

After three months of building work, noise, dust and rubble coming from upstairs, and no, we weren’t given any warning whatsoever, we were becoming increasingly worried. The stress in particular is the worst part of it for me – the whole experience contributes to feelings of being “worth” less than other people. People with more money, basically.

Not knowing how this will pan out, makes me extremely paranoid. What happens if… you know, ruminating about the worst possible outcomes. All too easy to fall into catastrophising. The overall feeling of disempowerment has made me freeze a lot of the time: don’t know what to do, can’t think, end up doing nothing. 

When the flat above us had been done up. And new people were shown round, we were given our marching orders – our bit of paper, too. We contacted our local authority. They told us to sit tight. Despite being incredibly stretched, the local authority will do their utmost to help someone in this predicament. We tend to forget there are good people out there especially when we’re feeling low. Help is available.

To be clear. We’ve been living here for 15 years. We’ve always paid our rent on time. When it was increased, we paid that as well, diligently. I have been renting my entire working life in England. I have encountered all sorts of landlords. But getting evicted simply because a landlord can chuck us out – for no other reason than pure greed. That is a bridge too far isn’t it?

I understand that the government plans to ban Section 21. After all, there’s a general election on the horizon. Not exactly a vote winner is it? I have no idea what happens to people “in the pipeline” like us. We’ll see. We will sit tight.

Chris Fraser

Good news about the new Rental Reform Bill, and I hope it makes it through to legislation unscathed. But let’s be clear that this bill doesn’t so much introduce new rights as restore ones taken away by Thatcher in the 1980s. 

Before her interventions, being a landlord was more of a niche profession with significant risks involved, such as sitting tenants and fair rents. It was only after these “risks” were removed that buy-to-let became a big thing, a safe way for people who already owned a home to take out cheaper mortgages to buy extra properties which would then pay for themselves, as an investment. What happened then was that property prices rose and rose due to extra demand, and renters became trapped and unable to afford to buy. 

So, in the short term this new legislation may lead to a shortage of rental properties, but in the long run – and with licensing controls over Airbnbs etc – we might go back to more people being able to buy their own homes, thus less demand for rentals, thus more availability to those who do need to rent. All we’ll need then is for rent tribunals to be restored as well, to keep rents fair and proportionate.

Yours, Sylvia Rose

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this? We want to hear from you. Get in touch and tell us more.

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