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Your views: The Renters Reform Bill

New renter reforms have triggered a huge response from readers. Here’s what landlords and tenants have told us

Illustration of a house with a lifebelt around it

Illustration: Álvaro-Bernis

The government has revealed its “once in a generation overhaul of housing laws” with the long-awaited Renters Reform Bill.

The reforms promise to scrap no-fault evictions, let tenants keep pets and force landlords away from blanket bans on renting to people in receipt of benefits or families with children.

The raft of changes has inspired a huge response from Big Issue readers. Here’s what tenants and landlords had to say:

I’ve rented for a long time and moved more than 35 times and over the past 10 years I’ve noticed that the list of things that landlords will not put up with has got longer and longer. Having pets, having children, being on the dole – you just know that every time you apply for a property there’s a high chance you’re not going to get it. I searched for two years to find a suitable home and finally my eldest son had to say he’d live with me, and we found somewhere together, in order for me to be approved to rent a home. It’s awful, just because you’re on benefits they assume you’re not reliable, when I’ve never missed a rent payment in my life. The stress was horrendous. Unless you’ve lived it you have no idea how toxic it can be, just trying to find a place to live in this broken system. The government has no idea how tough it is for people just trying to find a decent place to live – that might be why it’s taken so long for them to do anything about it.

I’m glad this bill is finally being brought in but we’ve waited much too long – if this had come sooner I might not have had such a long search. And it all depends on the detail and how it is actually enforced. At the moment, there are landlords who do what they want because they don’t get checked: in a previous home we lived in, there was rising damp which set off my son’s asthma, but the landlord just refused to do anything about it. We need to be confident that there will be more checks, that landlords won’t be able to find a way around it.

Elizabeth Grimes

If I complain to my landlord about anything, he puts the rent up by £50 a month and tells me I’m lucky

Laura Hookaway

I am in the private rental sector, I am a single mum to a 15-year-old boy. I work full-time and earn £20,000-plus a year, not without sacrifice. I’m constantly told I need to put in more hours for no overtime, etc. My current rent is £800 a month for a two-bedroom flat; I live in the middle of a run-down town centre. It’s mouldy and hasn’t had any work (new kitchen, bathroom, carpets) for a good 15-20 years. I do get help from universal credit (UC) monthly as I have a child however my rental component monthly is £750. I do not get the full amount obviously, because I am in full-time work and don’t expect to do so. However, when my rent went up I advised UC and they said they could not take any raise over £750 a month into account as that was the local/national average for the flat/area and the most they would consider.

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I can’t even look to move from my mould-ridden flat because I don’t earn the accepted annual income of 37,500 a year for a two-bedroom flat that rents in my area for a minimum of £1,100 a month. You literally can’t rent anywhere for less. So I have no choice but to stay put. If I complain to my landlord about anything, he puts the rent up by £50 a month and tells me I’m lucky.

Laura Hookaway

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We received our second Section 21 this year. We will have had a total of four since 2019. In the past nine years we have had to moved 10 times for various reasons like mould, huge rent increases, aggressive neighbours. Where we are now we had to pay six months in advance. When we moved in here the house was filthy, the shower leaking down into the kitchen, and the bath also leaked, that we had to fix ourselves. You could tell that the house hadn’t been decorated or cleaned since the 1980s. We are also pensioners, we are spent and ill and suffering from horrendous anxiety.

Lee Harries

The house took a week to clean to a normal living standard. There were cigarette burns and faeces in the carpets

Samia Turner

Emergency housing with private landlords is unfit for human habitation. We were moved into emergency accommodation in Nov 2022 due to a no-fault eviction and placed in a house with rising damp, mice infestation, mould painted over, blocked drains, a broken gas cooker, the house took a week to clean to a normal living standard. There were cigarette burns and faeces in the carpets. The garden was full of rubbish, from broken bottles with glass everywhere to underwear and household waste as well as urine in bottles.

I am disabled and my doctor sent a letter stating I should not be moved due to my mental health declining, yet they never considered this and placed us in an area where we sit on a hill meaning I can’t leave the house. They even advised me, as a suicide risk, to get fresh air by walking around the local cemetery. Trying to get placed on the housing list here we have been told no, even though we have no connections where we lived before, my mental health support has been moved here and is much better with the support they provide.

So now we are being forced to look for private rented accommodation outside of our affordability or face being relocated again back to where we have no support, no family and would have to go unemployed and find new schools and mental health support all over again. Emergency housing ruins lives and the homes are not inspected before placement, they ignore medical advice and you cannot get help from councils in the areas you are placed in. What hope is there?

Samia Turner

I’m a landlord of one property which used to be my home. When I moved I put a commercial mortgage of £180,000 on the property and used this as a deposit for a new main home. Since I have been a landlord the government and the Bank of England have made it a virtually pointless venture. First the government tore up the rule that meant capital gains tax (CGT) for the period the property was my main residence was free of CGT. Now I pay CGT for the entire time I’ve owned the property not just the part it was a business asset. Next, despite the mortgage interest on the mortgage that makes it possible to let the property being a business expense, the government decided to make it impossible to claim tax relief on mortgage interest paid out. The effect on landlords was an £180,000 mortgage costing 40% more.

Finally, the interest on my £180,000 mortgage has gone up around £600 a month. So right now I charge my tenants the same £1,450 a month rent I did three years ago but now I make no profit. Without a hefty rent increase it’s a pointless business. The property is worth £300,000 more than the mortgage. I may just sell it and pocket the cash. The government are forcing rents up and the sale of rental properties through their actions. Landlords are not making more money the rent increases go straight to the gov in taxes paid by landlords.

David Smith

Now I am finding myself forced to contact my tenants and explain that I will be selling my properties and asking them to look for another rental

Alexandra Wright

I am a landlord and I would like to present to you an alternative narrative as to why the housing market finds itself with this number of Section 21s being served. I know that the following will contradict your position but I would be grateful if you would at least hear me out on the matter.

I would ask why do you think that the number of evictions under S21 has doubled in recent months?

When Theresa May’s government proposed the changes in the Renters Reform Bill and in particular the abolishment of S21 no-fault stated evictions, I and many of my fellow landlords predicted that once there was a date for publishing and implementation there would be a tsunami of S21 evictions as landlords who would not be prepared to operate under these new proposals sold up and left the market. This is exactly what is happening. It is the threat of losing S21 that is instigated the evictions and so many families losing their homes and not S21 itself. I have been a landlord for over 20 years and intended to remain one however now I am finding myself forced to contact my tenants and explain that I will be selling all my properties and asking them to look for another rental. Several households will now find themselves looking for alternative accommodation. Should the threat of abolishing S21 not have been raised this would not be happening.

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We are not all ogres. Agreed there are bad landlords out there but to be fair they are in a minority compared with the bad tenants. I speak from experience of tenants refusing to pay rent, dealing drugs from and smashing up my house and displaying antisocial behaviour and making the lives of their neighbours a misery. There is often little to no redress for landlords in these circumstances. The councils have the legislative tools to deal with rogue landlords but do not use them and this is where the issues of retaliatory evictions start. With a plentiful supply of houses in a deregulated private rental sector there would be fewer rent rises and longer voids for landlords who would in turn be keen to hang on to a good tenant. 

Alexandra Wright

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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