At the Labour Party Conference this week in Liverpool, I was pleased to attend the Shelter stand in the Exhibition Hall and hear about their campaign, I agree with their call that we need to rebuild a fairer housing system that provides the solid foundations that this country sorely needs.
I share the concerns of many folks in my patch about our current housing system. Here in Plymouth, there are currently over 11,000 households waiting for a council house. More and more people are having to turn to private landlords, which is driving up demand and rents in the private sector, where millions live in the knowledge that they could be evicted at a moment’s notice. We are seeing people evicted from properties so that they can be flipped into Airbnb’s and second homes, I want to see every person in Plymouth with a first home before houses are used in this way. You can read more about my campaign here https://www.lukepollard.org/first-not-second-homes/
While rents rise at record rates, the Government has decided to freeze housing benefits for private renters for the third year in a row. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, only 5% of new private rental properties on Zoopla can now be covered by housing benefits – the lowest level on record.
I believe we need to build more homes and put social and genuinely affordable housing at the heart of our plans to fix the system. I want to see improvements to the quality and safety of existing social homes and reform purchasing rules to make it easier for councils to buy land for development, bringing in a new generation of council housebuilding.
I also want to see more rights and better protections for private renters, including an end to section 21 to prevent tenants from being evicted with little notice and minimal justification. I therefore welcome the Renters (Reform) Bill, which includes a ban on section 21 and limits rent increases to once a year, but I am concerned there are loopholes that could be used by ill-intentioned landlords to evict tenants while a range of other sensible measures have also been left out.