Adam Johannes scrutinises the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill and argues that it fails to protect ‘Generation Rent’ from insecure and expensive housing. He calls for grassroots action in the centenary year of the Glasgow Rent Strike…See more from Planet 220 here
Tenants know that their landlord can make them homeless for no reason whatsoever. They know that if they try to take their landlord on, it is a battle they will ultimately lose. So tenants do the only thing they can do to protect their families, which is to move … and move … and move. Nearly one in five private renters with children have moved three or more times in the last five years. And the landlord never has to face up to their responsibilities, because Wales is in a housing crisis and there will always be another set of tenants to move in.
Rent control is like a minimum wage for tenants.
At the beginning of the 1980s, if you were reading about housing in Wales, you would be reading about a different country. In 1980, a third of people in Britain lived in council houses in a long-term secure home with an affordable rent. Today only one in seven people live in social housing, and, for the first time in a generation, more people rent from a private landlord than from a council or a housing association. In 1980, those who privately rented were protected by some form of rent control. If a tenant considered their rent too high, they could even apply to the council to determine whether they were paying a ‘fair rent’ and often the ruling would go in their favour and the landlord would be forced to lower the rent.
Later in the decade, Thatcher ended this. It was promised deregulation would improve housing by giving more incentives for people to become homeowners. Now Britain has the most unfair housing system in Western Europe, some of the highest rents and one of the most deregulated private rental sectors in the developed world. The average UK rent is nearly double the European average. Private renters in the UK hand over almost 40% of their earnings to landlords. The European average is 28%...
Adam Johannes is a writer, musician and community activist. He organises with Cardiff People's Assembly, Cardiff Stop the War Coalition and Cardiff Against The Bedroom Tax. He can be emailed on [email protected]
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