Generation Rent: What the politicians have to say

Andy Winter is chief executive of BHT (Brighton Housing Trust)
Andy Winter is chief executive of BHT (Brighton Housing Trust)

The general election is just 45 weeks away. Housing is right at the top of the concerns of the electorate.

The general election is just 45 weeks away. Housing is right at the top of the concerns of the electorate.  In Brighton and Hove, one third of all households live in privately-rented accommodation. Many complain about the practices of letting agencies, high rents, and insecurity. They are known as "Generation Rent", people of all ages for whom the prospect of home ownership has become a cruel hoax, and who are now being priced out of the rental market.

I recently wrote to the city's three Members of Parliament and the candidates of the main political parties who will be challenging them next May, asking what they and their political parties would be offering renters after 2015 on issues including high rents, insecure tenancies, and poor practice by some landlords and, in particular, letting agencies.

I was delighted that all three MPs and five of the six candidates sent responses. They were sincere, and all recognised the importance of the issue. There was a broad consensus that tenants - and, in my opinion, landlords - need to be protected from rogue letting agents. There was not complete agreement regarding the length of tenancies.

I have posted the full text of each response on my blog and I will certainly follow up on their commitments should they get elected.

Once the election is over, the boot is on the other foot and we become subject to the decisions of politicians. But before the election, given that they need the support of the public, and most will court the indirect endorsement of the community and charity sectors, we should not be afraid, without entering into party political campaigning, to raise issues on behalf of our clients, members and communities.

The result in 87 marginal constituencies could be decided by Generation Rent, including all three in Brighton and Hove.

So please do see exactly what the contenders are saying, by visiting: www.andywinterbht.wordpress.com.

Andy Winter is chief executive of BHT (Brighton Housing Trust).  For more information, visit: www.bht.org.uk. Twitter: @BHT_Sussex