Why are private renters treated so atrociously in the UK? Look at other European countries like Germany and France and we see it’s actually not impossible to get a private rented sector that provides people decent, secure homes they can afford.
But in the UK, and particularly London and the South East we’re ripped off, turfed out, harassed and made to live in accommodation that, in the words of the plumber working on the rented flat down the road “you wouldn’t let your dog live in”.
Why? In a nutshell it’s because the interests of political parties are too bound up with the interests of landlords and property developers.
You think I’m being paranoid? Yesterday MP and landlord Philip Davies (@PhilipDaviesMP) blocked a law getting through parliament that would have required rented homes to be fit for human habitation. Pretty radical stuff, huh? Currently landlords are perfectly within their legal rights to charge you for living in their property which isn’t fit for human habitation. And as someone who has rented for 15 years, I can tell you this is a right many landlords enjoy and exploit with gay abandon.
Phil said during a debate on the proposed Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill brought by Karen Buck MP that the law would be a “unnecessary regulatory burden”.
In his speech Phil asked that we spare a thought for the humble landlord, persecuted by “the left” and endlessly pursued by the burden of making sure the the properties they make a living off are fit for human beings to live in. He said:
““Landlords appear to be an easy target for the Left in this country. The overwhelming majority of landlords, and I will put myself in this category, want to do the right thing and wouldn’t ever dream of renting out a property that isn’t in a fit state to be rented out and want to comply with every regulation that’s introduced. But being in that situation I can tell my honourable friend that it is very difficult to keep tabs on all the things that are expected of you.”
According to Phil, MPs were acting “as if [landlords] have nothing else to do but wade through legislation generated by this house.”
Now to be fair to Phil, he has a point. Landlords have plenty to do procuring Jaguar F-Types, reclining on private beaches in the Maldives and not suffering from mould-induced asthma without needing to be concerned whether the properties funding this luxury lifestyle are fit for human habitation.
Just for a bit of context, research from Citizens Advice found renters pay landlords £5.6 billion every year to live in properties that make them sick and kill them. Sixteen per cent of all privately rented homes were found to physically unsafe, compared to just six per cent in the socially rented sector.
Phil’s lengthy interjections meant the Bill didn’t reach the point where it could be voted on and has been adjourned until the 29/01/2016. (Is that why they call it Philibustering?)
Why not get in touch with Phil? Explain what you think about him deliberately blocking a Bill that would mean, in return for our rent, we have the right to a home that doesn’t damage our health:
Tel: 020 7219 8264
Fax: 020 7219 8389
You can listen to the debate in parliament here.