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40 per cent of tenants are struggling with rent payments

Rent and mortgage payments

There’s now a significant proportion of adults in the UK struggling to meet their rent or mortgage payments, with 40% experiencing financial difficulties. This marks an increase from last year's 30%, that’s according to a recent article published by CityA.M., based on information from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). 

Rising rents are underlying the situation, with average rents now at £1,278 per month outside of London and £2,627 within the capital. The rental market has experienced an 8.9% increase in prices since September 2022, including a 1.38% rise from August this year. 

Landlords under pressure

Many landlords are also facing serious financial difficulties. This is due to rising mortgage rates, coupled with other cost increases. Their situation is leading to some landlords leaving the private rented sector (PRS).

With some landlords abandoning the private rented sector, this is causing a perfect storm for tenants at a time when tenant demand is increasing and rental housing supply falls, hence the spike in rental prices.

The situation is leading to prospective tenants offering above asking prices just to secure an accommodation, while vacancies attract multiple tenant enquiries and queues forming at some house viewings.

Labour’s plans

During last week’s Labour party conference, Angela Rayner committing Labour to improve and strengthen tenants’ rights by accelerating other measures in the Conservative’s Renters Reform Bill.

The bill, as it stands, already includes abolishing assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs). The Bill means there will be an end to the Assured Shorthold Tenancy, with only continuous periodic tenancies, no more “no fault” evictions, and it will provide tenants with time limited rent increases.

There was little or no mention of housing issues at the Conservatives Party conference, but there was a commitment to have the Renters Reform Bill passed into law during the current parliament, at the outside by January 2025.

Labour’s urgent calls

Labour is calling for enhanced tenant protection measures to be introduced into the bill but the shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy has ruled out the imposition of rent controls, having previously expressed an interest in the measures.

The shadow housing secretary is calling for the government to immediately implement her party's private renter's charter. Labour’s charter includes the banning no-fault evictions as well as lengthening repossession notice periods and introducing a code of practice for letting agents.

Labour claims that more than three million people are being impacted by the Conservative’s failure “to protect renters" across England. Labour also says that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's plans to protect renters have "significant doubts" around the timescale to implement the bill due to unrest on the government's own backbenches.

Workers’ rights

Labour has also said it will strengthen workers’ rights ‘within the first 100 days’ of being elected. Angela Rayner who is Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told Labour’s conference that plans to boost protections for gig workers and enshrine basic employment rights from the first day of a job had not been watered down.

“Be in no doubt – with Keir and I at the helm, we’ll ban zero-hour contracts, fire-and-rehire, and give workers basic rights from day one. We’ll go further and faster in closing the gender pay gap, make work more family-friendly, and tackle sexual harassment. And we won’t stop there. We’ll ensure that unions can stand up for their members. We will boost collective bargaining, to improve workers’ pay, terms and conditions.”

Rental security

Lisa Nandy says: "Labour will never treat renters as second-class citizens. We will make renting fairer, more secure and more affordable with our renters' charter.

"We will scrap no-fault evictions, introduce a four-month notice period for landlords, a national register of landlords, and a suite of new rights for tenants - including the right to make alterations to your home, the right to request speedy repairs, and the right to have pets."

A spokesperson for the Conservatives responded to CityA.M. by saying said: 

"Keir Starmer has u-turned on everything from rental reform to protecting the green belt. On housing, like any other policy issue, the British people can't trust Keir Starmer to keep his word.

"Only the Conservatives are improving tenants' rights, protecting our green spaces and delivering the right homes in the right places, as we continue to deliver on the people's priorities by halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting NHS waiting lists and stopping the boats."

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: 

"The Renters (Reform) Bill, which has begun its progress through Parliament, delivers the 2019 manifesto commitment of 'a better deal for renters'.

"Reforms will strengthen protections for both renters and landlords - abolishing so-called 'no fault' section 21 evictions, while strengthening landlords' rights of possession.

"Tenants will benefit from greater security and quality of housing, and landlords will find it easier to get rid of anti-social tenants or those wilfully not paying rent.

"We remain committed to creating a private rented sector that works for responsible landlords and tenants and holding those abusing the current system to account."