This motion creates new policy. Existing policy on protection for tenants is set out in policy paper 104, Decent Homes for All (2012).
F44: Protecting Private Tenants
(Passed with Amendment 1)
Conference notes that:
A. 1.3 million households, with 9 million residents in total, rent their homes from private landlords in the UK.
B. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows landlords to evict tenants at two months' notice without having to give a reason, provided the tenant is outside the initial secure period of the tenancy.
Conference regrets that:
i) One in three privately rented properties in the UK does not meet the Government's Decent Homes Standard .
ii) Over 324,000 private tenants per year have been evicted in the last five years after complaining to their landlord or local authority about a problem in their homes.
iii) One in eight tenants has not asked for repairs to be carried out for fear of retaliatory eviction.
iv) Current housing market conditions allow landlords to evict tenants in the knowledge that they will generally be able to find a new tenant quickly and easily, allowing some landlords to evict tenants rather than carrying out necessary repairs.
Conference believes that:
a) Nobody should be forced to live in poor conditions due to their landlord's failure to deal with problems in the property, nor should they be reluctant to report problems due to the fear of being evicted.
b) There are many good landlords who respond appropriately when problems are reported by tenants, and this motion does not seek to infringe their rights in any way.
Conference welcomes the Tenancies (Reform) Bill tabled by Sarah Teather MP in the House of Commons on 2nd July 2014 and co-sponsored by Tessa Munt MP, Tim Farron MP and Andrew Stunell MP which aims to give tenants legal protection against retaliatory evictions, and encourages Liberal Democrats MPs to support it.
Conference further welcomes the excellent campaigning work carried out by Shelter to bring this issue to national attention through its 'Nine Million Renters' campaign.
Conference calls for the following legal protections for private tenants:
1. Tenants who report problems with their home to their landlord and are subsequently served a Section 21 Notice should have the right to appeal.
2. Landlords using Section 21 Notices should be made to give their reasons for serving the notice.
3. If an Improvement Notice is served or Emergency Remedial Action taken by the local authority the landlord should not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice for six months.
4. A landlord should not be able to serve a Section 21 Notice within six months of a Hazard Awareness Notice being issued by the local authority.
5. The use of Rent Repayment Orders should be extended to allow tenants to get their rent refunded where a property is found to contain serious risks to health and safety. This provision should apply to current tenants and those who have left the property.
Applicability: England only.