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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

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.

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