James Brokenshire is Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and is MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup.
Supporting one group can sometimes mean disenfranchising another. But not in the housing market. We all collectively benefit from a society which can provide safe and secure homes for everyone.
The fastest growing housing tenure in our country is private rental. And yet for a long time our politics didn’t understand what this shift meant. Privately renting your own home has been a struggle for too many; paying unjust fees up front for services that don’t benefit you, living with the threat of eviction at the whim of a landlord or not even knowing what your rights are as a tenant.
And this should bother us as Conservatives. We should want all people to feel like they have a stake in their community, and that all the great things that flow from someone committing to a place and putting down roots shouldn’t be denied based on your housing tenure. The Conservatives should be the party of security and belonging, and nowhere is this more important than in the private rental sector.
That is why we have already legislated to ban unjust letting fees and strengthened the rights to redress for tenants. We’ve worked with campaign groups to get more information to renters and put pressure on the market to improve behaviours and ensure tenants get a fair deal. But I know this isn’t enough.
With more people choosing to rent privately, and for longer, we need to make sure the market works for them. Putting their interests on a par with landlords. The vast majority of landlords do a great job and also want to see their tenants treated with the respect they deserve. I know that we need to strike a better balance in the private rental sector. If a landlord has a legitimate reason to get their property back quickly they absolutely should.
And yet, the 11 million people living in the private rental sector need a little more support, because the balance of power as it stands isn’t fair. And that is why I’ve taken the decision to go far beyond the scope of the Government’s current efforts to reform the private rental sector, and abolish ‘no fault’ evictions. Because these ‘Section 21’ notices mean a landlord can evict a tenant without reason. Giving someone two months to move out of their home without just cause is simply wrong.
Landlords quite rightly should be able to evict problem tenants and we are strengthening their rights to do so. Yet, for the family renting privately, I know this reform will mean they can sleep easier at night, knowing that the housing market they rely on has become fairer as a result.
If you work hard, you should feel like your job will be safe. If you pay your rent you want to be confident your home will remain your own. If you pay your taxes you will want to know the services you rely on will be there for you. This question of security is a critical battleground for the future of our politics.
And the Conservatives need to become the party of security. I want every citizen to know that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for a better future for them and their families. Today the housing market has become a lot fairer, and this is something we can celebrate.