DR UK joins public call for Michael Gove to freeze rents

Thu,23 February 2023
News Housing

Trade unions, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotherham, leaders of the Green party, think tanks and charities have signed an open letter calling on Michael Gove to implement a Scotland-style freeze on private rents and an eviction ban to tackle the current crisis. 

As wages hit a near 20-year low, forcing half a million workers to strike earlier this month, rents continue to skyrocket at record rates. 1 in 2 private renters nationally are struggling with housing costs, with the situation even more difficult in cities like London. London Renters Union members reported average rent rises of £3400 (20.5%) in December, nearly double the 12% national figure. 

Millions trapped in an unaffordable private rental sector are forced to cut back on essential spending or face the threat of homelessness. Evictions are on the rise, as landlords use no-fault section 21 to force out tenants unable to accept unaffordable rent rises, still legal despite the government’s 2019 promise to abolish the clause.

Renters are among the worst affected by the cost of living crisis. Before this crisis, renters spent four to five times as much as owner-occupiers on housing. Yet landlords, with the encouragement of letting agents, are using this crisis as an opportunity to introduce rent hikes. In September 2022 alone, one million renters faced a rent increase.

The open letter states that a temporary freeze on private rents is the best policy to address the scale and urgency of the current affordability crisis. The government must also abolish unfair evictions and introduce the long-overdue Renters Reform Bill to improve housing standards. 

We are calling on the government to follow the lead of the Scottish government and:

  • Introduce an immediate freeze on rents to protect renters.
  • Implement an immediate ban on evictions until the cost of living crisis is over.
  • Deliver on the commitment to end section 21 by fast-tracking the much-delayed Renters Reform Bill.

Mikey Erhardt, Housing Policy Lead at Disability Rights UK said:

"Time and time again, we see how the housing system is rigged against Disabled people. We have a right to a warm, affordable, accessible home. These are not luxuries but the minimum we should all expect.

We know there is a way out of this housing crisis if the government is brave enough to take it. By building more accessible, truly affordable social homes, freezing rents across the social and private rented sectors, and taking action to tackle poor quality of housing across the country - we could finally get the housing system we all deserve."

You can read the full text of the open letter on the London Renters Union website.