Today I questioned Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, over rights for private renters in Sheffield, urging him to bring in further protections for tenants – as his Government has promised.
“The latest figures for Sheffield, from February 2020 to April 2021 there was a 46% increase in the number of private renters claiming housing benefit. Wages simply aren’t keeping up with rent.
“28% of private rentals in the city contain Category One hazards – and let’s remember these are ones involving serious risk of harm – compared to just 4% of social housing provision.
“As the cost of living crisis deepens, and energy bills rise, what is Government doing to alleviate pressure on private renters, and when will they publish the Renters’ Reform White Paper?”
The Government’s Queen’s Speech in 2019, which set out their programme of legislation, promised a Renters’ Reform Bill to improve protections in the private rented sector. Ministers have since hinted that a White Paper, setting out the ambitions for the new laws, will be published this year – but there’s been no sign of it so far, and no updates on their plans.
The Secretary of State did not deny the problem, but refused to lay out his plans to fix it, responding:
“He makes a very good point. It is the case that there are a number of people in the private rented sector who are not getting the deal they deserve – both in terms of the level of rent and in terms of the decency of their homes. I look forward to working with him on it.”
Renters in Sheffield and across the country have had a poor deal for too long and the situation’s getting worse. The Government’s hands off approach to the housing crisis is forcing renters to shell out extortionate amounts each month for housing that is too often substandard.
With more people having to claim support to make ends meet due to rising rents, Ministers’ reluctance to mend the broken system means that now the taxpayer is having to provide bigger subsidies to landlords.
The Government must urgently bring forward legislation to force landlords to make their homes safe, tenancies secure and ensure no one is priced out of renting a home.
You can watch a clip of my question below: