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Property Hawk

Tenants get political

Tenants are getting more politically militant! They are mobilising, pulling together, and forming groups to help make their voices increasingly heard by politicians and Government.

They even have a new collective name for themselves. They are no longer prepared to be classified as tenants - this is an out dated term,  they perceive marks them out as subservient, beholden to a lord and master - the landlord.

No, 'tenants' are now ‘renters.’

Renters want justice

Renters are wanting to be heard. Tenants want justice! 

So, where do I sign up….I’m there already manning the barricades.

Landlords let’s get serious

Ok, I might be over-wafting the smoke from the revolutionary bonfires. I admit, we are not quite at the point where gangs of renters are baying for the heads of landlords, but things are changing - the climate of attitude toward the private rented sector is cooling.

Last week, tenants in Bristol organised a protest calling for a an end to unfair charges from letting agents and the introduction of an ethical lettings charter.

Online we have the emergence of increasing numbers of pro-tenant groups, such as generation-rent.org.

There is an increasing dissatisfaction with the private rented sectors by those that live in it, much of which is down to unrealised expectation.

Increasing numbers of tenants, who might previously been aspiring homeowners, no longer see they will ever get their opportunity to buy a home.  They are facing up to a lifetime of renting and are finding the prospect unnerving, upsetting ... depressing, whichever, they are not happy.

These tenants are educated and aspirational. Growing up, most of them held a presumption that one day they would  get a mortgage and buy their own home. However, this shared expectation is increasingly feeling out of reach to them - an impossible dream. As this reality dawns, increasingly they are looking to  reclaim some of their rights, pivoting their focus of blame between Government, the financial institutions, society as a whole, but saving their focus on those on the front line - their landlords and their letting agents.

So why is the politics of renting changing?

Generation-rent have highlighted a significant shift in the political balance between landlords, homeowners and renters. The breakdown in the electorate has changed. 

The number of parliamentary seats where tenants (private & public sector) are in the majority has increased from just 6% in 2001 to 10% or 65 constituencies in 2011.  This is still a relatively small number, considering 35% of the UK population are tenants of one description or another.

However this shift is forecast to continue. It is expected that by 2021, 16% of constituencies will have renters as the dominant housing class.  Vote needy politicians will be increasingly wanting to listen to the concerns of tenants. This clearly has implications on a national level, in the policies pitched by the politicians. 

Just as the success of Thatcher's tories was down to reaching out and connecting to homeowners, the next decade will be shaped by which political party is best able to harvest votes from renters.

Thatcher's impact on the private rented sector

Major's impact on the private rented sector

Blair's impact on the private rented sector

Brown's impact on the private rented sector

Cameron's impact on the private rented sector

Political risks increase for landlords

Next year's general election presents a considerable risks to landlords. There are policies and discussion afoot that will alter the status quo. Things are going to change, whoever gets in. For none of the parties will be able to afford to not listen to the increasing political voice of renters.

A voice that is increasingly determined to be heard.

These will be interesting times for landlords, and something to factor in to our long-term decisions.



Comments (6)

Ouzo gets a good deal
I know a tenant who gave their landlord a bottle of Ouzo when they moved in. The landlord was so touched she knocked fifty quid off the monthly rent. Seven years later, everyone is still happy!
#1 - Jonathan Clarke - 11/22/2014 - 09:52
Tenants getting political
Great so tenants get political potentially forcing LL to exit the market
,Result happy LL and unhappy tenant!
Tenants are idiots if they think LL wil take any of their crap
They had better watch out or LL will just sell up and leave the market
LL are in charge and not the tenants and tenants had better not forget it
As far as the tenant is concerned the LL is lord and master
If the tenant doesn't like that state of affairs then go and buy a property like the LL had to do
Tenants and LL should have respect for eacother
Someting that many wrongun tenants fail to have for LL
Exampled by the 150000 wronguns who were evicted for rent arrears
#2 - Paul Barrett - 11/23/2014 - 01:25
Tenants get political
When I was growing up, my parents always rented. It was only when I started work and found myself working in the conveyancing industry that I began to consider buying a property, and that wasn't for me to live in, but my father. I was in my mid thirties before I became an owner occupier.

I'm no longer an owner occupier, but even now as a landlord and property investor, I still don't particularly aspire to becoming an owner occupier again - expanding my portfolio yes, but as I see it, provided I have a reasonably pleasant, happy and secure home, I couldn't care less whether my name is on the deeds or not - it's still my home.

I know someone who has rented for a long time, and is very bitter that home ownership (among various other things) has escaped her (although she has a really nice, comfortable council flat in a great location that she has rented securely for several years). When she has had the opportunity in the past to become a homeowner, she has turned the it down for very trivial reasons. She is a very embittered person, always latching on to some reason (always someone else's fault) for her misfortunes.

Whenever someone else's misfortune is recounted to her, the answer is often, "So what, she has her own home!" Same with hosting; how can she be expected to play host to anyone - she doesn't have her own home.

My point is this - provided you have somewhere to call home and make your own, where you can feel secure, does home ownership matter? People in other countries quite happily rent, without giving it a second thought.

The only time I've been made to feel accutely and painfully aware of my occupier status was when I was a lodger in someone else's home, and the person didn't really want me there - boy, did I envy that whingeing lady her lovely council flat then, even though I was living(?) - more like staying long term in - a beautiful detached house on a sought after suburban street.

Unless your situation as a tenant really is dreadful (you're landlord's a rogue, you're living in substandard accommodation or you can't pay your rent), think of people who can't even have that, and turn your attention to goals in your life that you can achieve - property ownership could be one of these, if you're prepared to look beyond the narrow owner occupier model at other ways onto the ladder.
#3 - Mandy Thomson - 11/23/2014 - 14:23
Tenants get political
I have found that if you are a decent landlord, then most of the time, you get decent tenants. You will get the odd one that strips and trashes the property whilst leaving a mountain of debt, but on the whole, I have had good experience, but I go out of my way to mend their problems as soon as possible.

However, there are many absent landlords in my are who are the pits, and deserve everything they get. They rent to any old rubbish, without checks, and pocket the deposits, and the first time anything is done to the house is when the tenant has deserted, and even then, they spend the minimum possible. More to the point, I have witnessed the law being bypassed entirely, when a van full of landlords relatives turned up and threw the tenants on the street, followed by all their furniture. Some couldnt care less about Section 21 procedure, as they know the tenats are immigrants and will not moan.

It is these tenants who have grievences, and thanks to the bad landlords, will make life tough for all of us.
#4 - s granger - 11/23/2014 - 21:48
tenants abd successive governments dictating
I am a landlady and I have one extremely good tenant and one likeable but unreliable tenant. I have bent over backward for him and even though he is in arrears and increasing i am still trying to be a caring landlord due to his mini stroke. So if tenants like him start to dicate and governments fall for all the poor me piffle I for one would sell up without hesitation and live quite comfortably on the proceeds stress free. What will the @want to be in control tenants and we want to give you control goverment do then to re house these poor badly treated tenants. Well so be it and bring it on I for one will then look after number one and let them all get on with it.
#5 - Christine Walmsley - 11/24/2014 - 20:26
With attitudes like these...
Paul Barrett above perfectly illustrates the attitude among some landlords which is driving the increasingly organised renter organisations to act.

A rented home is not the same as a leased car or a zero hours contract, though it seems he believes it is.

I'm willing to stake that his tenants are very unhappy, and that he's got a high rate of turnover, thus getting what he deserves. It's just unfortunate that unsuspecting renters will be victimised in the process.
#6 - Jack - 06/29/2015 - 16:35
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