Tenants are trapped in a collapsing housing system | Renting property

Thank you for John Harris’s excellent call for politicians to act on the housing crisis (Neglected, derided and exploited more than ever: why won’t the UK protect those who rent a home?, 24 March). The Social Housing Action Campaign’s perspective is that we are no longer in a housing crisis. It is system collapse. Tenants and residents in social housing are suffering just as those in the private rented sector. Last year, the vast majority of housing associations utilised the maximum scope allowed by government and increased their rents by 7%. These inflated rents will rise again this year by 7.7%.

Shared owners fare even worse. This tenure is long recognised as combining the worst of both worlds, having to pay rents and mortgages but enduring the full cost of bills, maintenance and repairs for their homes no matter how small the proportion they actually “own”.

On top of this, some renters and the majority of leaseholders and shared owners pay service charges. There is no cap and barely any regulation of these charges.

So far, none of the mainstream political parties has offered any solution that addresses the underlying causes of the housing crisis. The challenge to all parties is to pledge significant investment in public housing and greater enforceable protection for tenants and residents.
Suzanne Muna
Secretary, the Social Housing Action Campaign

The private rental sector is yet another manifestation of our dysfunctional political system. What in better times would have been regarded as a national emergency is now ignored. Renters, despite their large numbers, have no voice in parliament, whereas landlords do. The latter through the Conservative party, which not only has landlords in parliament, but is in receipt of substantial donations from property companies. Tenants have no substantial funds to buy political support. Even the Labour party, which once would have been seen as the renters’ party, is largely indifferent to their plight, as demonstrated by Keir Starmer’s opposition to Sadiq Khan’s proposed rent controls.

Four million children living in poverty, mostly in private rental properties, does not move MPs. There is consequently no hope that tenants and other underrepresented groups will have their voice heard in parliament.
Derrick Joad

Following John Harris’s article about huge rent increases by private landlords, the tenants in housing associations are also facing similar levels of rent increases. The Peabody homes on our estate in Tower Hamlets and Hackney are also expecting rent rises of up to 9%. This will really hit the pensioners, some of whom have lived here for decades, and the many key workers who make up our lovely community here.
Rosemary Walker

Skyrocketing private rents reveal the utter dishonesty of the government’s measure of inflation. Rishi Sunak trumpets falling inflation as his success story but his measure of inflation – the consumer prices index (CPI) – does not include housing costs. Private rents nationally are rising at 7.8%. CPI is 3.8%. If rental costs were factored into inflation as they should be, they would puncture a huge hole in the claim of the government that it has a plan for economic recovery.
Bob Colenutt

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